BLUE SKIES, by Anne Bustard, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, March 17, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
Middle-grade novels are written for middle-graders, but often times they also serve as a fantastic window for parents. Books like Blue Skies, by Anne Bustard, help us see beyond our grownup biases.
It’s been three years since World War II ended, but Glory Bea Bennett hasn’t given up hoping her father will still come home. After all, the official word was that he was lost on Omaha Beach in France. Now, he just needs to be found.
Glory Bea is sure such a miracle can occur. They’ve happened more than once in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. Glory Bea’s grandmother — the best matchmaker in the whole county — is responsible for 39 of them all on her own.
When it’s announced that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train — a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France — will be stopping in Gladiola, Glory Bea convinces herself that her father will be on it.
But wishing something to be true — no matter how much you believe it — doesn’t make it so. And sometimes miracles are the thing least expected.
Blue Skies is a tender read that perfectly captures the belief that anything can happen if you put your mind to it. As a parent, I can see my own daughter mirrored in Glory Bea. Her determination. Her deep love. Her sense of injustice and feelings of hurt and sorrow. They all ring true.
Blue Skies is an exquisite mix of joy and mourning. Glory Bea’s friends are a bright, sensitive and quirky. And Glory Bea’s grandparents are a delight. It’s a book that will grab you at the beginning, and you won’t want to let go by the ending.
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