cover image Blue Skies

Blue Skies

Anne Bustard. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4606-9

More than three years after WWII, fifth grader Glory Bea’s father is still MIA. Everyone assumes he’s dead except Glory Bea, who refuses to give up hope of a miracle: “he’s going to find us.” When her father’s soldier buddy Randall Horton comes for a visit, she isn’t pleased with the attention her mother pays him, especially after Randall becomes a permanent resident of their small Texas town. As the adults’ relationship grows romantic, resentful Glory Bea strives to drive Randall away. She eagerly awaits the arrival of the Merci Train, delivering, as thanks for wartime help, boxcars full of gifts from France and, she believes, her father (“Why else would it stop in Gladiola?”). Bustard (Anywhere but Paradise) captures a patriotic spirit in post-WWII America in this novel inspired by the real-life Merci Train. Although the book’s outcome is fairly predictable, it offers well-researched details about the era and themes relatable to a modern audience. A subplot regarding Glory Bea’s playing matchmaker for her two best friends adds humor and interest, highlighting the protagonist’s determined attitude. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (Mar.) [/em]