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Author: Jill Biden

-1Second Lady Biden delivers a sensitive, non-political account of one family’s deployment.“Does Daddy really have to go?” are the opening lines in this child’s view of deployment, and they are the first words many children say when their parents tell them of the long separation they are about to suffer. “Daddy is a soldier,” is the honest answer Natalie has to process. As the seasons change with Daddy still abroad, the difficulty is obvious. Natalie has to be brave as she waits and waits. She is comforted by the support of her neighbors, the prayers of her church, a sensitive teacher, and playing with her “Daddy Dolls” (GI Joes); video chats with her dad are big events. Colón’s soft brush-and-scratch technique invites the youngest readers in, taking a bit of the edge off the sadness but never turning the story saccharine. Each family facing deployment is unique and faces its own challenges, but Biden nicely touches on the experiences that are common to every family: loneliness, fear, long months of boredom and the paradox that life goes on despite the absence. She wisely leaves out the truly difficult moments: the goodbye scenes, the possibility of injury or death, and the readjustment upon the soldier’s return.Teachers and counselors will reach for this often for the extensive, excellent resources in the backmatter as well as the story. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2012

Jill Biden, illus. by Raúl Colón. S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5735-5

Second lady of the United States Biden turns her family’s experiences into an earnest picture book that encourages support of those serving in the military and their families. Natalie (inspired by Biden’s granddaughter) misses her father desperately when he is deployed. “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes,” her mother quietly reminds her. But waiting and worrying about her father, and trying to be a strong example for her younger brother, Hunter, are tough. The words “Be brave, Natalie” appear as a frequent refrain as Natalie, Hunter, Mommy, and Nana celebrate holidays and milestones, wishing Daddy could be with them. Packages, prayers, video chats, and kind gestures from friends and neighbors make things a little easier, but nothing can match the joy of the day when Daddy arrives home to his “brave, brave girl.” Colón captures the rhythms of everyday family life at school, church, and elsewhere in his textured, mixed-media compositions, depicting several tender moments of concern and love among family members. Biden also includes an author’s note, information about the military, and tips for how children and adults can reach out to military families. Ages 5–up.

–Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2012


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