cover image Captain's Command

Captain's Command

Anna Myers. Walker & Company, $15.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8706-4

Though Myers's (Ethan Between Us) novel borders on melodrama, it may well serve as a solid introduction to America's involvement in WWII. The story opens as two men, while thinking about their wives and children, are shot down in a plane somewhere in Europe. The narrative then shifts to sixth-grader Gail's memory of receiving a telegram explaining that her father is missing in action. The story flashes between occupied France and Stonewall, Okla., as Gail and her family await further word of his fate. While Gail's mother and great-grandmother struggle to maintain a normal daily routine, Gail, too, grapples with quotidian concerns: her little sister's Christmas present, run-ins with a schoolmate and her Uncle Ned, blinded by a war injury and wallowing in self-pity. By referring to the two Americans who have been shot down only as ""the navigator"" and ""the gunner,"" and by creating different fates for the two men, Myers keeps readers in suspense alongside her characters; thus the news of Gail's father's death comes as a blow to readers as well. In an uplifting coda, Gail saves her blind uncle from a fall in a frozen stream, breaks through his wall of indifference and makes her own wartime sacrifice, giving him her beloved golden retriever to serve as a seeing-eye dog. Myers evokes the 1940s era and small-town locale with warmth and authority. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)