A class assignment blossoms into friendship as a fourth-grade (later fifth-) Californian showers a young soldier stationed in Afghanistan with letters, e-mail messages and postcards.
Scotto supplies only chatty Felix’s side of the continuing correspondence, though the general drift of the replies from his new buddy Lt. Marcus Greene is easy enough to catch. In nearly daily missives, Felix queries his pen pal about what soldiers do while detailing his own interests, teachers, town, hard-working Filipino American parents (and their reactions when his restless big brother enlists) and his newfound delight in taking snapshots. Several of these, along with handmade picture postcards, are reproduced in Williams’ evocative drawings. He also charts emotional ups and downs, notably after Felix brings a sudden end to years of harassment by punching a bully in the nose and in the wake of news that Greene has been hospitalized with a serious wound. In the end Greene remains a shadowy stand-in for any soldier, while Felix comes across clearly as an everylad modeling a high level of respect for what his adopted pal is doing, as well as the anxiety common to any family who has a member in today’s armed forces.
An uncomplicated but fervent and timely show of support. (Fiction. 10-12)