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“At turns hilarious, at turns heartbreaking, Shawn Stout’s story shows us the damage that a whisper campaign can do to a family and a community, and at the same time shows us, each of us, a way to find our hearts. Frankie Baum is a hero from a distant time and yet a hero for all times, the kind of hero who never gets old. I loved this book from the very beginning to the very end.”—Kathi Appelt, author of the National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book The Underneath
In my classrooms, historical fiction illuminates time periods, helps integrate the curriculum, and enriches social studies. It piques children’s curiosity and puts people back into history while addressing complex issues.
So I was glad to discover and enjoy A Tiny Piece of Sky (the book will be out in January. I receive advance review copies). This humorous and heartbreaking story about sisters, spies, and World War II on the American home front present a well-told story that presents authentic settings and artfully folds in historical facts. It is a heartfelt, charming, and insightful novel that is based on true events,
World War II is coming in Europe. At least that’s what Frankie Baum heard on the radio. But from her small town in Maryland, in the wilting summer heat of 1939, the war is a world away.
Besides, there are too many other things to think about: first that Frankie’s father up and bought a restaurant without telling anyone and now she has to help in the kitchen, peeling potatoes and washing dishes, when she’d rather be racing to Wexler’s Five and Dime on her skates. Plus her favorite sister, Joanie Baloney, is away for the summer and hasn’t been answering any of Frankie’s letters.
But when some people in town start accusing her father of being a German spy, all of a sudden the war arrives at Frankie’s feet and she can think of nothing else.
Could the rumors be true? Frankie has to do some spying of her own to try to figure out her father’s secrets and clear his good name. What she discovers about him surprises everyone, but is nothing compared to what she discovers about the world.
Shawn K. Stout weaves a story about family secrets, intolerance, and coming of age. Kirkus Reviews said he “uses an archly chummy direct address at several points, successfully and humorously breaking up tension in this cleareyed look at bad behavior by society….Successfully warmhearted and child-centered.” In the book, Frankie experiences for the first time ethnic and racial prejudice in her father’s restaurant. Many community members want to shut down the restaurant because of its owner’s German descent and because he hires African-Americans. It is great for Black History Month units.
And by keeping readers guessing to the end, it is an entertaining read for anyone.