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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Minding the Gap: WWII Gap

This is a new series in which I determine big time gaps in children’s literature.  Themes and issues and elements that should be written about and yet somehow haven’t.

This week, a patron contacted me with the following request: Name me one, just one, middle grade chapter book (5th-7th grade) that’s about African-American kids on the homefront during WWII.

Ladies and gentlemen, it can’t be done.  I’m drawing a complete blank.  The Road to Memphis by Mildred Taylor?  That takes place in the 1940s but it’s not really about WWII. Readers, I invite you to best me.  Can you name any ANY book at all that covers this?  Remember, it has to be set on the homefront.  No Flygirl.  No Mare’s War.  No Dear America books with brave boys fighting in the field.  Children.  African-American. Homefront. WWII.  We get some of these each year starring white children and a couple internment camp novels too, after all.

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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. tanita says:

    Nope, can’t be done.
    I would have LOVED to have read some, when I was researching bits and pieces on what Josephine’s life was like while Mare was away, but — nada.

    I’m looking forward to what you dig up, if there’s any – or looking forward to the book you inspire. Or write!

  2. marjorie says:

    Googling took me to Taking Care of Yoki by Barbara Campbell (a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated NYT reporter who wrote about civil rights issues) — it’s out of print. An African-American girl rescues an elderly horse from the glue factory while her dad is off fighting WW2.

  3. Ami says:

    Well, there’s…no…but maybe…er, no…I’m stumped too! And I would definitely like to see some.

    Here’s another topic: picture books for kids who were adopted out of the foster care system. They know darn well they weren’t given up by a scared teen mother or a poor Chinese woman at birth. There was maybe some scary stuff, and that “your birth mother loved you very much” line rings a bit hollow. If anything, books like that can make them feel worse.

  4. DogEar says:

    “Flygirl” by Sherri Smith is about a light-skinned African American girl during WWII who tries to pass for white so she can join the WASPs. Set in the south, the story begins on December 7, 1941. I’d say it’s appropriate for ages 12 and up. How young a reader are we looking at here?

  5. DogEar says:

    Ok, I clearly didn’t read the whole post before jumping in with Flygirl. We’re not considering this because the main character isn’t young enough?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Partly. But really they wanted kids on the homefront. Homefront, in this case, being the operative word. “Flygirl” is awesome but she’s fighting in the war. Not applicable.

      This shouldn’t be so hard!!!

  6. Elizabeth Bird says:

    Marjorie, you may have won. Out-of-print it may be, but it’s the closest thing we have thus far.

  7. Sounds like an opportunity for an author to write something distinctive and needed.

  8. Wow-the time stamp is weird.

  9. DogEar says:

    Fuse, I agree. Shouldn’t be this hard. I still have nothing.

  10. Ari says:

    I got nothing and I came over here to see if anyone else came up with something but nada =/

    Although I have to admit, I really like WWII books that talk about the experience of AAs in the actual war.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Oh sure, me too. I like them a lot. I just want something different. We’ve plenty on that front. Now why can’t we see those fighters’ families as well?

      *sigh*

  11. Lindsey Lane says:

    The only one I could think of is Lowry’s Autumn Street. It doesn’t exactly fill the bill because Charles is a secondary character.

  12. Amy says:

    Love this feature! I’m not familiar with internment camp novels for MG/YA. Which are you referring to?

    Thanks!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Most recently, Cynthia Kadohata’s Weedflower, though there are plenty of others. Tis a genre.