Peck, Richard. On the Wings of Heroes. New York: Dial Books, 2007.
Davy Bowman has the coolest dad in the entire town. And he’s got a pretty awesome big brother. Davy’s father fought in the Great War and came home a little bit different. So when World War II arrives and Davy’s brother goes off to become a pilot the entire atmosphere of the town and Davy’s life changes.
– Source for choosing this book: Publisher’s Weekly
– Grades 4-8.
– From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4-8-In Davy Bowman’s Illinois neighborhood, life is friendly and happy, with time for boisterous hide-and-seek games and stories on the porch. As he explains, “Nobody was a stranger… Everybody played. Dogs too, yapping at our heels… They ran wild like the rest of us.” But that is before World War II, which sends the narrator’s older brother into the army, makes his dad somber, brings his troublesome grandparents into town, sends his mother to work, and changes everything. Peck’s masterful, detail-rich prose describes wartime in the United States, where coffee and sugar are rationed; rubber, metal, and even milkweed fluff are collected for the war effort; and sacrifices are made by everyone. Peck’s characters are memorable. A classmate’s mom comes to school to terrorize her daughter’s timid teacher: “A giant figure appeared at the classroom door. We hadn’t seen a woman this big since Mrs. Meece came for her girdle.” Each episodic chapter about Davy, his family, and his neighbors fits seamlessly into the emerging story. Readers will cheer for these folks, and be submerged into the homefront world of people who: “Use it up, wear it out,/Make it do or do without.” This book is an absolute delight.
-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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– Related book: Wynne-Jones, Tim. Rex Zero, King of Nothing. New York: Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, 2008. Found in Booklist. Both stories are coming of age stories featuring a boy whose father had trouble adjusting to life when he came back from a war fought overseas.