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A World War II Story

by Louise Borden & illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: April 24th, 2006
ISBN: 0-618-33922-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Embroidered details and the passage of time don’t make this episode from the author’s family history any less topical. Looking back to childhood years, Borden recalls next door neighbor Ted Walker, a young Navy man who served aboard a cruiser at the war’s beginning, then moved to a submarine, and never came back. In sensitive prose arranged as free verse, she recounts time spent with him during his rare visits, of writing weekly letters and thinking of him, and how just the awareness that someone she knew was out there in harm’s way brought the distant war so much closer to her familiar daily world. Parker illustrates with sketchy, subdued scenes that move from schoolrooms and summer porches to tense imagined encounters between enemy ships, then closes in the wake of the sad telegram’s arrival—and later news of the war’s end—with a view of the narrator ruminating, “about the next-door neighbors / on both sides of the war / who hadn’t come home. / So many many neighbors.” Other than the importance of keeping and passing on family stories, there’s no overt message in this understated account—which makes it more likely to leave readers moved and thoughtful. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)