Remembering that sense of connection is what Vanita Oelschlager explores in her picture book Postcards from a War. Published in 2009, when the United States was still a war on two fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the story of Matthew Brian Jackson, 6, whose mother is in the Air Force and has been deployed overseas to an un-named country where there is an on-going war. Matthew's father works downtown and so, after school, he stays with his grandfather.
When he tells his grandfather that he is sad about his mom being away and afraid she might not come home, he told Matthew about when his own father went to war during World War II. Taking Matthew up to the attic, he began to show him the postcards and letters sent home to him and his two sisters, to let them know all was well with him and to make the waiting for his return home easier. As a result, over the course of the war, the family felt connected with their dad, no matter where he was.
This is a simply told story with a lot of impact, perfect for today's children whose mom or dad has also been deployed. Because it is the grandfather telling his grandson about his own experience, the story is rich in detail about what life was like growing up during the war. But also it address the one thing both wars have in common - the impact war can have on a home front child, exploring the fears they most likely have and suggesting ways to deal with it. That is what makes this such a good from for kids.
Vanita Oelschlager has written lots of children's books, but Postcards from a War is somewhat autobiographical, reflecting her understanding what is feels like to have a parent in the military put in danger when they are deployed. The postcards and letters were sent to her family during World War II.
The illustrations in Postcards from a War were done by Mike Blanc using digital painting software. The World War II illustrations are done in a sepia tone giving them a aged look while the full color illustrations are done in color to represent the present. As you can see, they are perfectly matched to the story, enhancing it without overwhelming it.
This book is recommended for readers age 6-9
The book was received as an E-ARC from netgalley.com
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