Friday, September 28, 2007

Why? The Wars Years


DePaola, Tomie. 2007. Why? The War Years.

Tomie DePaola, in addition to picture books, has been writing a successful line of chapter books. Titles include 26 Fairmont Avenue, Here We All Are, On My Way, and What A Year. Within this series is a sub-series called The War Years. Why? is the third title in that series. (Others include Things will NEVER Be the Same and I'm Still Scared.) The series is historical. The author is recounting what life was like when he was a child. Why? is no different, though it is substantially darker than 26 Fairmont Avenue. The book opens with the New Years celebration. It is officially 1942. Big changes are on the way for the family and the nation that is now at war. The book deals with issues big and small--from school and listening to the radio to hearing the devastating news that his cousin Anthony has been killed in the war. It has an emotional ending with no resolution. Perhaps the next book in the series will show them learning to cope with the pain, loss, and confusion. Or maybe the book is designed to show that there is no resolution, that the shock of it really never goes away. That there are no tidy endings in war. Either way, I think the series will continue to be a success. I wish, however, that I had been more familiar with it before I read this one. I had read the first two--26 Fairmont Avenue and Here We All Are--but I had not read the others--specifically the two in the War Years series. I think it would have been more enjoyable--less abrupt and disjointed. But still, I imagine that the overall series is great.

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