Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck

I love this author. Peck is funny and writes hysterical historical fiction for young people (like his Newbery-Honor-winning A Long Way From Chicago and the Newbery-Medal-winning A Year Down Yonder). But what I like best about him is that he grew up in Decatur, Illinois and writes about his childhood. I've met Mr. Peck at conferences and he KNOWS my high school English teacher. He knows the road where my parents live. Scary, but true. If you ever have the chance to hear Mr. Peck speak, he is worth the drive and conference fee.

On the Wings of Heroes tackles World War II from a young boy's perspective on the home front. Davy Bowman lives in central Illinois and his older brother is an Army Air Force pilot. This book follows Davy as he matures. At the beginning of the short novel, Davy is a gung-ho Cub Scout, effortlessly collecting metal, paper, and anything else for the war effort. But as the war continues and his older brother is missing in action, Davy realizes that everything about the war isn't fun and exciting. His dad is battered by Chicago mafia tough guys because he won't have anything to do with counterfeit gas rations. Davy's grandparents move into the front room and are larger than life. Davy's mom gets a job at the blood bank. All types of changes are taking place as Davy grows up. Of course, the best part of the book for me is the mention of all my hometown places like Blue Mound, Wyckles Corner, Maroa, Mt. Zion, and Pana. What made me angry though is that the narrator of this audiobook didn't find out how to pronounce the proper nouns. Both Wyckles Corner and Pana were mispronounced.

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