WELCOME TO MY FEATURED REVIEW FOR MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!
The 1940’s decade brings to mind thoughts of World War II, and when a book is set during this time period you anticipate reading specifically about the war torn years from 1939-1945. BLUE SKIES takes a different route, beginning three years after the end of the war.
Glory Bea (pictured on the cover) still has hope her father will soon come home from the war. She chooses not to believe he died on Omaha Beach. Her mom and grandparents have moved on best they can, but Glory Bea just knows she’ll see her daddy soon.
She can’t understand why her Mama is interested in another man. Randall Horton also fought in the war and was a friend of her dad. The difference is Mr. Horton came home and is around the house way too much.
Glory Bea spends her time preparing for Father’s return and doing whatever she can to get rid of this new suitor. She also is following in her Gram’s hobby of being a matchmaker. Her first attempted match is the boy next door and her best friend. The results provide a much needed dose of levity to to the story.
Of course Glory Bea’s father is not coming home, even though she assumes France’s Merci Train will deliver him shortly after Valentine’s Day. The slow pace may keep some readers away, but most will keep reading because the end reveals if Glory Bea will ever accept the reality of a parent’s death. It’s a touching look at grief and the unique way each of us deals with it.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: March 17, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 224
THE OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION (From Simon & Schuster)
Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them.
Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own.
The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there.
When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo.
But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT
BLUE SKIES by ANNE BUSTARD
- Glory Bea is an endearing character you won’t soon forget.
- The cover just begs for you to pick this one up.
- Life in a small Texas town 80 years ago will surprise middle grade readers used to our modern day world. A perfect historical snapshot.
- The ending made it all worthwhile.
- The author’ note in the back pages is not to be missed. Anne Bustard goes into more depth about how America’s Friendship Train and Frances Merci Train operated. There’s also an excellent bibliography for those wanting to pursue more books about the time.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ANNE BUSTARD
Born in Hawaii, author Anne Bustard is still a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk by the ocean every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. Growing up, Anne took years of hula lessons and spent many happy hours wearing a facemask and breathing through a snorkel. Her small sea glass collection from childhood is one of her most treasured possessions.
Anne loves school. And she has a lot of degrees to prove it. Three came from the University of Texas at Austin (BS, MLIS, PhD). Her most recent one, and she believes her last, is an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. (For more visit Anne’s author website).
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