Today my daughter was filling out a "My Favorite...." chart for the start of our school year. Her favorite book? Jimmy's Stars. What makes this novel a favorite for her, a typical nearly 11-year-old girl?
1. The main character, Ellie, is an authentic "every girl." She has strengths and weaknesses. She struggles, she cries, and she has small victories. Although she is a 1940s girl, her character transcends time, and a girl of 2008 can relate to her.
2. Rodman makes the setting somehow familiar, yet she liberally scatters unique war-era traditions/concepts and subtly explains them: rationing, phrases like "for the duration," the explosion of women in the workforce, the fear of the telegram, the hatred of Hitler, the strong belief that soldiers were heroes. In other words, today's readers are provided with a clear explanation of how life was then, but without it sounding like a history lesson.
3. Ellie and her family are not the perfect all-American family like the Brady Bunch. They all fight, the parents are tired, and they have to eat salmon pea-wiggle. But there is an abundance of love, evident in small gestures and in their pulling together.
4. The book is sad, but Ellie is strong. There is closure without necessarily a happy ending.
5. Rodman has a knack for writing dialog that is true. There's no artificial, excessive speech—just real stuff.
We loved Jimmy's Stars. Below is a list of other stops on the blog tour. I particularly enjoy the two-part interview with Mary Ann Rodman over at Maw Books. Tomorrow I'll talk about other WWII literature that would make good companion pieces for Jimmy's Stars.
1 Charger, A Childhood of Dreams, A Christian Worldview of Fiction
A Mom Speaks, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, By the Book Reviews, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Home School Buzz, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Maw Books, The Friendly Book Nook, The Hidden Side of a Leaf