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Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story

Overview

When the United States enters World War II, Molly is attending Beechwood Elementary. But her thoughts are with Ted Walker, her neighbor, who is serving aboard a cruiser in the South Atlantic.

Three years later, the war is still going on and Molly is in the fourth grade. Ted is still at sea, as a naval officer of the USS Albacore, a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. Orchard Road feels like the safest place on earth, but somewhere on the other side of the world, Ted and his crew are...

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Overview

When the United States enters World War II, Molly is attending Beechwood Elementary. But her thoughts are with Ted Walker, her neighbor, who is serving aboard a cruiser in the South Atlantic.

Three years later, the war is still going on and Molly is in the fourth grade. Ted is still at sea, as a naval officer of the USS Albacore, a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. Orchard Road feels like the safest place on earth, but somewhere on the other side of the world, Ted and his crew are carrying out dangerous missions. No one knows when they will come home, and young Molly must find a way to live with fear during wartime.

A woman reminisces about her neighbor's son who was the object of a letter writing campaign by some fourth-graders when he went away to war in 1943.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Though this story of loss is set in the 1940s, its message is timeless. . . . The retrospective narrative lends Molly's sorrow distance without diluting its significance; it also allows her to commend the wisdom of such remembrance."—Horn Book Horn Book

"This elegant book speaks to the far-reaching effects of war and the healing power of memory." Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Borden (The Journey that Saved Curious George) explores how war touches the lives of those seemingly far-removed from battle, partly basing this poignant story on her uncle, Theodore Taylor Walker, a WWII submariner lost at sea. Third-grader Molly Crenshaw lives next door to Ted Walker, who in 1943 serves on a submarine in the Pacific. Molly's first-person account offers snippets of her daily life in a presumably Midwestern town; she listens to broadcasts of baseball games, attends Beechwood School and writes to Ted. The free-verse narrative travels easily between Molly's life back home and what she imagines Ted's experience might be like aboard a submarine. The author intersperses facts about the war and submarines (e.g., submarines are named for fish and can be as long as a football field), and she links the two worlds together via a large world map painted by students ("There were so many islands./ Submarines like Ted's Albacore/ were helping to capture those islands back,/ rescuing pilots shot down over the sea/ or figuring out where enemy fleets were"). Parker's (Ballet of the Elephants) trademark pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations alternately depict scenes from the submarine and from Molly's daily life. Drab gray and pale brown hues dominate the illustrations as people grieve when Ted goes missing in action just before Christmas. This elegant book speaks to the far-reaching effects of war and the healing power of memory. Ages 6-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
The author's uncle served on a submarine during World War II, and his ship hit a mine while on patrol in the Japanese waters off northeast Honshu. Although the author never knew her uncle, she has written an excellent story focusing upon the observations of a young girl living in that era. Molly lives next door to Ted Walker and, although she and her brother, Sam, know about the war, it seems like something quite remote from their everyday lives. Their street, Orchard Road, is a safe and happy place to grow up. When Ted is home on leave, he is patient and helpful to the young children in the neighborhood. When he returns to duty, Molly writes him letters. She always includes sketches of Buttons, the Walker's dog, in the corner on each envelope. When Molly enters fourth grade, she thinks of Ted Walker every time she looks at the large map her teacher has painted on the wall. She imagines what his experiences must be like in the vast blue of the Pacific Ocean. Then Mrs. Walker receives the tragic news—Ted's ship is missing. When the war is over Molly says, "This is the best news in a long time.except Ted won't be coming back." And even years later, when she is grown, Molly remembers her next-door neighbor, Ted. The text brings home the tragedy of war but does show how people recover while always keeping the memory of the heroes alive in their hearts.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-The author of The Greatest Skating Race (S & S, 2004) has teamed up with Parker to produce a successful and moving piece of historical fiction. This story is told as an American girl's reminiscence of her experiences during World War II. Molly's much-admired neighbor, "navy man" Ted Walker, is serving on a submarine in the Pacific, but to her, "Orchard Road seemed the safest place on earth, and the war...well, the war was something far away." The text is deceptively simple and understated. Borden evokes the era through small details, word choices, and descriptions of everyday activities, such as building a snowman, the first day of school, writing letters to Ted, and spending summer days on the porch drinking lemonade and listening to baseball games on the radio. The war remains distant until the fateful telegram arrives. Parker alternates scenes of Molly's life with images of Ted on the USS Albacore. The artist's characteristic loose-lined ink-and-watercolor paintings capture the sense of a once-secure and orderly world becoming less stable. The lyrical prose and evocative pictures create a poignant slice-of-life tale that resonates with the emotions of the friends and family members on the homefront. The story will provide a human perspective to nonfiction accounts and may also touch a chord with children who have loved ones serving abroad.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Embroidered details and the passage of time don't make this episode from the author's family history any less topical. Looking back to childhood years, Borden recalls next door neighbor Ted Walker, a young Navy man who served aboard a cruiser at the war's beginning, then moved to a submarine, and never came back. In sensitive prose arranged as free verse, she recounts time spent with him during his rare visits, of writing weekly letters and thinking of him, and how just the awareness that someone she knew was out there in harm's way brought the distant war so much closer to her familiar daily world. Parker illustrates with sketchy, subdued scenes that move from schoolrooms and summer porches to tense imagined encounters between enemy ships, then closes in the wake of the sad telegram's arrival-and later news of the war's end-with a view of the narrator ruminating, "about the next-door neighbors / on both sides of the war / who hadn't come home. / So many many neighbors." Other than the importance of keeping and passing on family stories, there's no overt message in this understated account-which makes it more likely to leave readers moved and thoughtful. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618339228
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/24/2006
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise Borden is the highly regarded author of many books, including Good Luck, Mrs. K!, Sleds on Boston Common, Good-bye, Charles Lindbergh and The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in WW II—all published by Margaret McElderry Books. Across the Blue Pacific is based on the true story of her uncle, Theodore Taylor Walker, who served aboard the USS Albacore (SS-218) during World War II. She lives with her husband, Pete, in Terrace Park, Ohio, and has three grown children. Her website can be found at www.louiseborden.com.

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