Like Flygirl, this is a WWII story that hasn’t already been told a million times, covering a piece of history that I didn’t know existed. Stories of female soldiers are few enough without the added aspect of race. A modern-day story line introduces us to Mare through her grand-daughters, adding an appealing and often funny perspective to the history, which is never dry. This would make a great addition to a WWII reading list, but it’s also appealing in its own right, with compelling characters and a brisk pace.
Richard Peck is such a trouble-maker, riling folks up with his potentially offensive plot-line about the desecrated remains (or are they?) of a Kickapoo princess, shotgun weddings, multiple counts of theft (Christmas trees, cars, you name it), twelve year olds driving recklessly under the encouragement of elderly women…
Okay, the only thing that actually has people up in arms is the Kickapoo princess. Personally, I thought Peck made it very clear that Grandma Dowdel fabricated the whole thing – she started the rumors about the burial ground, she dug up the “remains,” she instigated the funeral and turned it into a publicity stunt. Was that a good thing to do? I think Grandma has always walked on questionable moral ground. She’s not concerned with whether her actions would offend anyone – she’ll break any rules to help the people she loves, even if maybe there’s a better way to accomplish it. Will child readers pick up on this? Some will, and others might take the Indian princess storyline seriously. This issue almost makes me think that this is a book better suited to adults.
But it IS still a book for children. Maybe it’s a book that necessitates a conversation about how attitudes change and sometimes (gasp) improve. But it’s also a book that will have some readers howling with laughter (the cover scene). It stands on its own plot0wise, but is perhaps best enjoyed along with A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder in terms of character development.
Oh, and do yourself a favor – the audio version is fantastically read and definitely adds something to the story. All the Grandma Dowdel books are great on audio.