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On the Wings of Heroes


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About the Author

RICHARD PECK (1934-2018) was born in Decatur, Illinois and lived in New York City for nearly 50 years. The acclaimed author of 35 novels for children and young adults, he won the Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder, a Newbery Honor for A Long Way from Chicago, the Scott O'Dell Award for The River Between Us, the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Are You in the House Alone?, a Boston Globe-Horn BookAward Honor for The Best Man, and the Christopher Medal for The Teacher's Funeral. He was the first children's author ever to have been awarded a National Humanities Medal, and was twice a National Book Award Finalist.


Peck (A Year Down Yonder) concocts another delicious mixture of humor, warmth and local color in this period piece, which describes America during WWII through the eyes of a Midwestern boy, Davy Bowman. The 1940s are a time of sacrifice for the Bowman family and a time of collecting for young Davy, who does his patriotic duty by gathering "whatever it took to win the war." Davy's search for scrap metal ("Five thousand tin cans will make a shell casing," his friend muses") leads him to mysterious Mr. Stonecypher, who lives in the oldest house in the neighborhood and who lost a son in another war. While hunting for milkweed ("for stuffing in life jackets, to keep shipwrecked sailors afloat"), Davy has his first run-in with old Miss Titus, a cantankerous woman, who ends up taking charge of his class during the teacher shortage ("We weren't used to a teacher who looked like a walnut with a mustache"). Throughout the novel, the author adroitly conveys how Davy's boundaries and horizons gradually expand, first beyond his neighborhood and finally overseas, when his brother is sent to Europe. First-person narrative brings the time period to life and vividly captures Davy's sentiments about the war and his family members, especially his father and brother, who are both heroes in Davy's mind. Chock full of eccentric characters and poignant moments, this coming-of-age novel will be embraced by children and grownups alike. Ages 10-up. Agent: Sheldon Fogelman. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Gr 4-8-In Davy Bowman's Illinois neighborhood, life is friendly and happy, with time for boisterous hide-and-seek games and stories on the porch. As he explains, "Nobody was a stranger-.Everybody played. Dogs too, yapping at our heels-.They ran wild like the rest of us." But that is before World War II, which sends the narrator's older brother into the army, makes his dad somber, brings his troublesome grandparents into town, sends his mother to work, and changes everything. Peck's masterful, detail-rich prose describes wartime in the United States, where coffee and sugar are rationed; rubber, metal, and even milkweed fluff are collected for the war effort; and sacrifices are made by everyone. Peck's characters are memorable. A classmate's mom comes to school to terrorize her daughter's timid teacher: "A giant figure appeared at the classroom door. We hadn't seen a woman this big since Mrs. Meece came for her girdle." Each episodic chapter about Davy, his family, and his neighbors fits seamlessly into the emerging story. Readers will cheer for these folks, and be submerged into the homefront world of people who: "Use it up, wear it out,/Make it do or do without." This book is an absolute delight.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"This book is an absolute delight." -School Library Journal, starred review

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