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WAR & WATERMELON by Rich Wallace


by Rich Wallace

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-670-01152-0
Publisher: Viking

Twelve-year-old Brody Winslow says, “It feels like my whole life’s about to change. Moving into junior high is like stepping out of childhood, whether you want to or not.”

And the summer of 1969 is an exciting and confusing time to grow up. When Brody’s first-person account begins, it’s August 11th. Men walked on the Moon last month, Woodstock starts on Friday, the Vietnam War is raging in the background, the Mets are losing as usual and Brody is beginning to be interested in girls, even if he does see himself as uncool, scrawny and awkward. Older brother Ryan turns 18 soon, draft age, a cause for conflict with his father, who wants Ryan in college, safely deferred. Mr. Winslow may be gruff, but readers may see his point of view as much as Ryan’s, who never comes off as an angry young peacenik, more a kid playing at possibilities. Mrs. Winslow, from the background, offers food as a palliative for all family crises. Wallace (Wrestling Sturbridge, 1996, etc.) may throw a barrage of historical references in the opening chapters, details jammed in like rock fans at Woodstock, but he still manages an accessible story rooted in a colorful time.

Readers will enjoy Brody’s story as he, in these few weeks, makes one small step toward manhood. (Historical fiction. 10-14)