- War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman
Library ed. ISBN 9781984850119 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 9781984850102 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781984850126 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4–7
A blank journal, and advice to note therein memories of things lost, turns out to be Millie’s parting gift from her grandmother; Millie entitles it The Book of Dead Things and carries it everywhere, taking notes on the diversely departed, from dead neighbors to dead sea life along the San Diego shore. At the same time, her family struggles from the Great Depression, America is heading into a second world war, and sixth-grader Millie struggles to maintain perspective when parental time and resources are stretched thin caring for the immediate needs of Millie’s ailing younger [End Page 292] sister. Readers, however, easily discern from Millie’s narrative tone that she hasn’t lost her humor or her resilience; with her quietly claimed independence in getting around town, a new friend with a calmer take on the nation’s turmoil, and her growing suspicion that maybe Gram never meant to direct her to the dark side, it’s clear she’ll pull through just fine. Millie’s gripe-and-make-do survival approach and the neatly crafted anecdotes that structure the story may remind Jennifer Holm’s fans of the similarly beset Key West kids in Full of Beans and Turtle in Paradise (BCCB 6/16 and 5/10). World War II raises the stakes, though, presenting a momentous obstacle that even the most determined child cannot fully master, but renaming her journal Book of Life helps Millie make a fresh start.