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DUKE by Kirby Larson Kirkus Star

DUKE

By Kirby Larson

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-545-41637-5
Publisher: Scholastic

With World War II raging around the globe, Americans are called upon to sacrifice everything, even when it might break their hearts.

When fifth-grader Hobie Hanson’s father leaves his fishing boat in Seattle to pilot a B-24 in Europe, he tells Hobie “to step up and do what needs to be done.” Whether it is buying war bonds, collecting rubber or simply making due with less, Hobie is giving all he can to the war effort. But when he begins to feel the pressure to lend his beloved German shepherd, Duke, to the Army, Hobie realizes he still has more to give. Authentic details, such as radio drama, ration stamps and the ever-present worry of a telegram bearing terrible news, enrich this story of a boy and his dog. References to the Japanese internment and anti-German prejudice bring the war even closer to home. However, Hobie is no perfect hero. He wrestles with his decisions, making mistakes along the way; a refusal to glamorize war sets this story apart. The universal anguish Hobie feels in his sacrifice will touch readers struggling to make sense of their own losses.

Exceptionally well-crafted and emotionally authentic. (Historical fiction. 8-12)