Sunday, January 22, 2006
Giff, Patricia Reilly. WILLOW RUN. New York: Wendy Lamb Books. ISBN 0385730675 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]
WILLOW RUN is Newbery Honor author Giff’s newest novel which follows Meggie, a character created in LILY’S CROSSING, to Willow Creek, Michigan where her father has gotten a job in a bomber factory. Meggie is forced to leave her best friend Lily, as well as her German American grandfather. Although her grandfather annoys her terribly, Meggie steadfastly defends him when a swastika is painted on his house. Meggie and her family are continually anxious about the older brother Eddie who is off fighting in the war, yet remain hopeful on the homefront. While in Michigan, Meggie has to live in surroundings that are far less comfortable than she is accustomed to. She meets new friends Harlan and Patches, other kids whose parents have come to do their part for the war effort. Together they are convinced that the ice cream man is a spy and that gives them justification to steal from him, although her actions weigh heavily on Meggie’s mind. Meggie writes letters to her grandfather faithfully, and realizes through his absence how much she loves him and misses his wisdom and words.
Written in first person narrative, through Meggie’s letters the reader is able to get an in-depth look at Meggie’s perspective on the anxiety everyone felt during World War II. Meggie grows and develops maturity during the course of the novel. She recognizes her mistakes and sets out to make things right with courage and wisdom.
Readers can discuss their own experiences moving to new area leaving behind family and friends. A letter writing activity could also be a meaningful follow up experience after reading and discussing this book.
Other novels with a World War II era setting with children as the main characters:
Giff, Patricia Reilly. LILY’S CROSSING. ISBN 0440414539
Lowry, Lois. AUTUMN STREET. ISBN 0440403448
By Pam Kemp