MY SECRET WAR by Mary Pope Osborne


The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck
Age Range: 8 - 12
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In September 1941, Maddie Beck and her mother move to a rundown boardinghouse on Long Island. Maddie’s dad is somewhere in the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, and Maddie takes hope in the fact that the United States is not yet at war. But a pair of German-Jewish refugees who also live in the boardinghouse hint at horrors yet to come. By the time of Pearl Harbor in December, Maddie is trying to transcend her desire to be accepted, her longing for penny loafers, and her dislike of the gap between her front teeth into what young people can actually do for the war effort. She takes Eleanor Roosevelt’s words to heart, and soon she’s organizing ways of collecting scrap, bacon fat, and other items to be recycled. She’s working alongside Johnny Vecchio of the sparkling brown eyes, and wonders if they could be more than pals. Osborne (Adaline Falling Star, p. 62, etc.) has captured perfectly the cadences of 1940s speech and music in Johnny and Maddie’s conversations. The historical discovery of Nazi explosives on the shores of Long Island in June 1942 is used in this fictional diary as a catalyst to their story, and is made both plausible and engaging. Maddie is as self-dramatizing as any young teen, but her circumstances are dramatic, especially after her father is wounded. Historical notes and photographs close the text. Young readers with grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through these times will be especially intrigued. (photographs, notes, appendices) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-590-68715-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000

Kirkus Interview
Mary Pope Osborne
January 6, 2015

Danger in the Darkest Hour is beloved children’s writer Mary Pope Osborne’s latest entry in the Magic Tree House series and it features Jack and Annie’s most dangerous mission ever. The magic tree house has taken Jack and Annie back in time to England in 1944. England is fighting for its life in World War II. Before long, Jack and Annie find themselves parachuting into Normandy, France, behind enemy lines. The date is June 5. Will the brave brother and sister team be able to make a difference during one of the darkest times in history? “It appears there is nowhere Osborne’s Magic Tree House cannot take readers, as this successful foray suggests,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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