Author: Mindy L. PeltonPosted: January 11, 2016
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2–Emily has to deal with a long separation from her father, a Navy pilot, who goes to sea for a six-month deployment. To cope, she tears off a piece of a paper chain every day that he is gone, traces his journey on a map, and communicates with him via e-mail and telephone. With her mother’s support and the help of a friend whose father is on the same ship, Emily feels less lonely. Warm text with soft watercolor illustrations results in a sensitive and caring title for those service families who go through long separations from loved ones. However, the Navy reflects the diversity of our country, so it’s unfortunate that the book’s illustrations don’t show it. Still, the book is certainly useful for children needing this type of material.–Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Reviewed with Eileen Spinelli’s While You Are Away .
Two new picture books portray children whose parents are away in the military. Both pay close attention to how the children feel and how they cope with a long separation, and both speak from the children’s perspective and in language a child might use.
Eileen Spinelli’s While You Are Away reads like a prose poem in three parts. Three children of different ethnicities narrate their own sections: a little boy whose father is in the Navy, a girl whose mother pilots a “fast plane,” and another boy whose Papa drives a “speedy jeep.” The children address their parents with their concerns, their questions, and their hopes. Their thoughts are simply expressed and often concrete: one child wonders what his father eats for breakfast, another wraps herself in her mother’s sweater. Warm, glowing colors light up the large-scale, softly defined drawings of children in action and reflection. The final, wordless spread shows all three families happily reunited.
In Mindy Pelton’s When Dad’s at Sea, Emily’s father, a Navy pilot, is leaving for a six-month deployment on an aircraft carrier. Each day he is gone, she removes one link from the paper chain he made for her, so that she can mark the days until his return. She misses him, but finds comfort in his e-mails and calls, and she even makes a new friend. The time frame of the story and the use of sensory details create a strong sense of Emily’s loss, her slow adjustment, and her joy at her father’s return. Steele’s impressionistic, delicately colored watercolor paintings sensitively depict Emily and her surroundings.
Since so many communities include families with parents in the military, these reassuring, empathetic picture books will be welcome additions to library collections. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Grade Level: 1 – 4
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 2004)
* information from the Amazon website