Blue Skies

S. & S. Mar. 2020. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534446069.
Gr 3-6–A post–World War II story about a spirited small-town girl and her pursuit to welcome her father home. Glory Bea believes she is called to be a matchmaker. Grams already has 39 miracle matches to her name, so why shouldn’t Glory Bea strive for the same? If things go as planned, the happy-ever-after between her best friend Ruby Jane and neighbor Ben will be miracle number 40. But Glory Bea also has a secret miracle in the works: bringing Daddy home from the front. They say he was lost in action at Omaha Beach, but Glory Bea doesn’t believe it. After all, Daddy promised that he would return. When it’s announced that the Merci Train—a train filled with gifts from the people of France—will roll through Gladiola, TX, Glory Bea is convinced it’s a sign. Now all she must do is prepare for Daddy’s homecoming, kindle romance between her two friends, and keep Mama from falling in love again. This is an endearing story that skillfully addresses loss, love, and hope. Weaving together small-town charm and friendly antics, Bustard cleverly integrates a history of the Merci Trains with a young girl’s desperate desire to see her father again. Despite the emphasis that three years have passed since the end of the war, readers should watch for a few anachronisms that might challenge the image of the 1940s that most textbooks underscore.
VERDICT This snapshot of a unique time in American history will inspire young readers and convince them that dreams are worth fighting for.

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