Brooklyn, New York, 1943: a time and place so remarkable that a mere five years later, Howie Crispers, wise at sixteen, can look back to record its fleeting intensity, already long behind him in memory.
In 1943, Howie's pop is in the merchant marine, dodging Nazi U-boat wolf packs an the brutal North Atlantic sea. Denny, Howie's best friend, has a father in the Eighth Army, battling Nazi general Rommel in North Africa. Every day the boys face reminders of war -- scary headlines, blackouts, scrap collections, warstamp drives.
Saturday mornings, Denny and Howie both leave their worries and responsibilities behind at the 25-cent kid movies. During the week, they depend on Miss Rolanda Gossim, their teacher. She may be strict, but she's kind and a lot prettier than any movie pinup. She occupies the boys' fantasies and makes the war bearable for Class Five-B at Brooklyn's P.S. 8. When Howie discovers she's about to be fired, he needs to find out why, and -- with the help of Denny and the rest of their class -- he makes plans to keep her on the job.
By turns hilarious, sad, and surprising, Avi's latest tale is a touching story of innocent love and yearning that's rich with authentic Brooklyn voices and poignant memories of the early 1940s -- days when unexpected, even shocking events took place without warning, days when, no matter what happened, you could explain it all with a simple phrase: "Don't you know there's a war on?"
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Avi is the author of more than sixty books, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, a Newbery Medal winner, and Crispin: At the Edge of the World. His other acclaimed titles include The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth, both Newbery Honor Books, and most recently The Seer of Shadows. He lives with his family in Colorado.From School Library Journal:
Gr 4-6-Howard Bellington Crispers looks back from his 16-year-old perspective to 1943 when he grappled with issues of friendship, fear, love, and loss. At age 11, Howie and his friend Denny share a crush on their teacher and they suspect their principal is a Nazi spy. However, in a sleuthing expedition, Howie learns that the principal's real perfidy hits closer to home-he is urging the firing of Miss Gossim. Howie visits his teacher and she tells him the reason for her pending dismissal-she is secretly married to an army pilot and is pregnant. Taking up her cause and disregarding his promise to keep her secret, Howie circulates a petition to stop the firing, embarrassing the young woman but securing her a reprieve until the end of the school year. Avi packs the story with authentic details of World War II in Brooklyn, NY, augmented by newspaper headlines. He peppers it with funny scenes, lots of slang dialogue between the boys, and a keen sensitivity to the adolescent psyche. Layered into the plot is the drama of the boys' absent fathers. Howie's returns but Denny's is killed, and the bittersweet ending reflects the protagonist's regret over losing Denny's friendship when his own family moves to Long Island. Though lacking in originality, this quick-moving, easily read story will be enjoyed by many readers. A more serious, complex, and in-depth treatment of a similar theme can be found in Janet Taylor Lisle's beautifully wrought The Art of Keeping Cool (Atheneum, 2000).
Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Library Binding. Book Condition: Good. Book shows minor use. Cover and Binding have minimal wear and the pages have only minimal creases. Bookseller Inventory # G0060292148I3N00
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