The Private War of Lillian Adams

Barbara Corcoran, Author Atheneum Books $13.95 (166p) ISBN 978-0-689-31443-8
Corcoran ( The Sky is Falling ; The Hideaway ) again steps back to another era, this time to 1917. Lil, the new girl in a small town near Boston, impresses the students in her fifth-grade class with a dramatic speech on the need to watch out for German spies. She decides that eccentric Mr. Panzi, the cobbler, is a foreign agent--the language he babbles must be German, after all--and suggests to her playmates that they target him for their Halloween pranks. But by the time the holiday arrives, Lil's not so sure about who's a spy anymore. Mr. Panzi turns out to be Ukrainian, not German, and her friend Danny's Socialist father is as patriotic as her own. Lil sees the ugly consequences of her ill-conceived words when the word ``spy'' is painted on Mr. Panzi's door. That small gesture results in his attack by a crazed mob, and his subsequent arrest and incarceration. A strong message about war, patriotism and mob rule combine with a rather simplistic plot in which the characters' motivations are neither examined nor explained. Although still a good read, this novel lacks the immediacy and emotional resonance of Corcoran's other recent works. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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