Monday, October 14, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Duke

Welcome to another Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Today's pick is another book that I was introduced to as a Cybils judge. The same as last week's book, it is an historical fiction, although it goes back a little further to Seattle, Washington during World War II. Much of the book is based on actual fact, so it is entertaining as well as educational.

DUKE
by: Kirby Larson
Scholastic Press 2013

From the jacket flap:
With World War II raging and his father fighting overseas in Europe, eleven-year-old Hobie Hanson is determined to do his part to help his family and his country, even if it means giving up his beloved German shepherd, Duke. Hoping to help end the war and bring his dad home faster, Hobie decides to donate Duke to Dogs for Defense, an organization that urges Americans to "loan" their pets to the military to act as sentries, mine sniffers, and patrol dogs. Hobie immediately regrets his decision and tries everything he can to get Duke back, even jeopardizing his friendship with the new boy at school. But when his father is taken prisoner by the Germans, Hobie realizes he must let Duke go and reach deep within himself to be brave. Will Hobie ever see Duke, or his father, again? Will life ever by the same?

Why kids will love it - Kids will relate right away to Hobie. He's a normal, every day kid who just happens to live during a traumatic time in our country's history. Not only is his dad fighting overseas, but he is talked into donating his beloved dog and sending him to fight as well. Larson does a great job showing all the emotions and issues Hobie is dealing with - sadness with his dad gone and then captured, regret over donating Duke, a bully at school that won't go away and how to be brave and support your country with all this going on in the background. I didn't know about the Dogs for Defense program (which was real) and kids can find out about this important part of the war effort. 

What I learned as a writer - In the back matter, Larson explained why she picked to write about the Dogs for Defense aspect of the war. She hadn't found any books for kids showcasing this fact of the war and saw a need.  I've heard this so many times at writing conferences - think of subject and what aspect hasn't be written about yet.  There's your marketable idea!

Thanks for stopping by today. If you've read a great book in 2013 for kids (actually anything published between October 15, 2012 and now), be sure to nominate it for a Cybil award. The nomination period closes tomorrow, October 15th, so stop by today!

Have a great week!