WAR AND MILLIE MCGONIGLE, by Karen Cushman, Knopf Books for Young Readers, April 6, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
Karen Cushman explores life on the home front during WWII from a child’s point of view in War and Millie McGonigle.
Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect — but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie’s sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn’t be more of a pain if she tried. It’s all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.
Still — there’s sand beneath her feet. A new neighbor from the city, who has a lot to teach Millie. And surfer boy Rocky to admire — even if she doesn’t have the guts to talk to him.
It’s a time of sunshine, siblings, and stress. Will Millie be able to find her way in her family, and keep her balance as the world around her loses its own? —Synopsis provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Millie McGonigle is an odd little character. She’s extremely independent and set in her ways. Following the passing of her grandmother, Millie becomes obsessed with death, drawing pictures and keeping a list of dead things in a notebook she always carries with her. It’s a bit much, but mostly feels authentic.
However, in one chapter Millie’s brother brings home a decaying dead for her to draw, and the detail in which it’s described is graphic. This particular scene is a bit icky for me as an adult, and I suggest parents skim it to make sure it’s a good fit for their child.
What made War and Millie McGonigle work for me was the historical aspect. I knew little about California leading up to and during WWII and found that fascinating.
War and Millie McGonigle is OK. It’s not great. It’s not horrible. I’d suggest it as a library read.
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