Review by Annie Cronin Romano
It’s been over three years since World War II ended, but fifth grader Glory Bea Bennett still holds on to the hope that her father will return from France, where he was reportedly killed in action. The Merci Train, a boxcar with gifts from the people of France, will make a stop in Glory Bea’s hometown of Gladiola, Texas, and Glory Bea is convinced her father will be the train’s surprise guest. When her father's army buddy, Randall Horton, arrives in town to meet their family, romance blooms between Mrs. Bennett and Randall, threatening to derail Glory Bea's plans for her father's reunion with their family. Simultaneously sweet and heart-wrenching, BLUE SKIES (Simon & Schuster, March 2020) is a middle grade historical fiction novel set in 1948 which examines the effects the war had on home front families. You'll fall in love with Glory Bea's feisty personality, devotion to her family, and unfaltering faith in what her heart desires.
On Writing: Anne Bustard employs light humor and an atmospheric subplot (middle school crushes at the soda fountain counter, anyone?) to assist in presenting the difficult subject of a family recovering from the impact of World War II. Her characters are well-developed and engaging, making this a strong mentor text for middle grade writers working on character development or writing about challenging topics.
For more information on Anne Bustard's work, visit her website at https://annebustard.com/.
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