First-grader Suzy’s father is in the jungles of Vietnam for a year.
Through a tightly controlled child’s point of view, readers live the year with little Suzy in the sheltered world her parents have built for her. She understands little at first, imagining romps in the jungle with elephants and apes. Her father sends her postcards every so often with cheery scenes of the tropics. Eventually, the postcards stop coming. She misses her dad, especially when her brother takes over some of her father’s duties, like reading the comics or Ogden Nash’s poems to her. One day, the wall of protection is broken by the television, with frightening visions of explosions, helicopters, guns and dead soldiers. Her mother whisks her away, too late. Proimos’ ink-and-digital art, in his signature cartoon style, adds needed humor to a frankly scary story that honors Suzy’s experience and respects those who share it. Occasional full-page wordless spreads allow readers to see into Suzy’s mind, beginning with her flying through the jungle and leading up to her post-epiphany anxiety about tanks and helicopters and rifles.
With a notable lack of patriotic rhetoric or clichés about bravery and honor, Collins holds firm to her childhood memories, creating a universal story for any child whose life is disrupted by war. Important and necessary. (Picture book. 4-10)