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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

What can kids do for the war?

Yes, folks, we are a nation at war. I know that some of you have forgotten this and some of you wish you could, but if you were to visit a military post, you would see the signs reminding you of the men and women and their units who are currently serving overseas. When my sons graduated basic training, the dignitaries reminded us that this was a time of war. Why do I bring this up? The absolutely stunning drawings by Ted Lewin in Dori Chaconas’ new book Pennies in a Jar (Peachtree Publishing, 2007). 

When I first walked past the Peachtree booth, I glanced at the cover of a boy placing pennies in a Mason jar and walked on. But it haunted me so I returned later to chat and examine the book. The illustration was so stunning and reminded me of Caldecott Honor book Peppe, the Lamplighter which made sense as I drew closer to see this was also illustrated by Ted Lewin. As I read this title, I appreciated how Ted was able to illustrate this young boy’s fear of horses, yet his desire to do something to help the war effort, to raise money for a birthday gift for his father, and to be brave. 

Perhaps the notes from the author on the two pages at the back of the book are part of the appeal to me. These must be shared so students can understand how everyone contributed to the war effort during WWII. Be sure to point out the book flap info on the author and illustrator. When I read that Ted Lewin’s doorbell rang three times with dreaded telegrams concerning his brother Donn being wounded in action, I could appreciate the agony of waiting for news of a loved one at war. 

While I love the illustrations, I can tie this in to telling front porch stories from my childhood. Even back step stories. For many years we had a milk man who delivered milk in his truck each week to our house and left it in a metal box labeled Well’s Blue Bunny. I remember how sad it was when he took the box after the final delivery. 

While we lived overseas on a military base in Germany, I was re-introduced to a type of milk man. There was a beertruck that delivered to anyone who wanted beer, sodas, and German milk that didn’t have to be refrigerated. You could leave an order on the door, they’d deliver and they’d catch you sometime that month to pay the bill. We loved that service especially the orange-cola flavored Ravilla. There was also a fruit truck that came by selling fresh fruits and candies. It was more popular than the ice cream truck. This was only ten years ago so don’t think I’m talking about WAY LONG AGO. 

Remember the blue stars hanging on flags so you could see which families had children serving during times of war? When I came back from ALA, I had received a pin with two blue stars on it for me to wear. Thanks, Susan! I’ll keep walking around, doing my work, and maintain daily life, but part of me is always aware that we are at war and that we all have loved ones serving. 

Thanks Ted and Dori for the beautiful book.