cover image Woodford Brave

Woodford Brave

Marcia Thornton Jones, illus. by Kevin Whipple. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, $16.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-62979-305-4

With WWII raging overseas, Cory Woodford is filled with pride that his father is fighting Nazis. Cory longs for superpowers like the heroes of the comics he both reads and creates so that he can prove he is “Woodford Brave” like his forebears. To Cory, this means catching Mr. Ziegler, his German neighbor, whom Cory and is certain is a Nazi spy. Cory is also worried about losing his best friend Aiden to their baseball-loving neighbor Sawyer, and a new girl in town drives an additional wedge between them. Jones (Ratfink) captures the absolutism with which Cory initially views the world—where all Germans are bad, and bravery means never showing vulnerability—then deftly charts his journey to discovering that life has more shades of gray than he had realized. Period details, like the victory gardens Cory’s mother and neighbors tend, and newcomer Whipple’s b&w comics sequences (which track a superhero story Cory writes and draws over the course of the novel) help give readers a sense of the story’s wartime setting, though the questions Cory faces are just as relevant for readers today. Ages 9–up. (Oct.)