Tuesday, November 24, 2009
My Secret War Diary, written and illustrated by Marcia Williams. Candlewick, Random House. 2008. $24.00 ages 10 and up
"THIS DIARY IS PRIVATE AND NOT TO BE READ BY NO ONE, NO HOW! THE WORDS ARE ALL BETWEEN MY DIARY AND ME. UNLESS I SAY OTHERWISE, WHICH I FLIPPING WON'T! UNLESS YOU'RE VERY, VERY SPECIAL."
I am still reading parts of this wonderful book, and have been for a long time. Allegedly written by Flossie Albright as a history of the Second World War, it is a sequel to Marcia Williams' earlier book, Charlie's War. Charlie was Flossie's father and his diary told his personal story about WWI. Building on what we learned about Charlie and how his war affected him, we now see how the next great war has some similar effects on his daughter. The detailed, often humorous pages belie the heartbreak and sorrow faced by children whose lives are torn apart when parents must leave them behind in the care of others. Flossie fills the pages with anecdotes, complaints, drawings, cards, souvenirs and other memorabilia. Interested readers will find much to hold their attention and to share as they pore over the pages and return to favorite entries. The author did detailed research to bring us from the early days of the war through to its end in August 1945 and we feel the joy that Flossie feels when Dad comes home. We know full well that her diary has helped Flossie in the struggles that she has faced, the lonlieness and terror she has felt as she waited for him to return and the incomparable joy she now knows at having the family together again.
My Secret War Diary is an excellent example of a mentor text...a text that we can use to help our young students find their voice through writing. Flossie comes to glorious life for us through her entries.