Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops
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Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops

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by Jill Biden, Raul Colon
     
 

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Inspired by her own granddaughter Natalie, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, tells a story through a child’s eyes of what family life is like when a parent is at war across the world.

When her father leaves for a year of being at war, Natalie knows that she will miss him. Natalie is proud of her father, but there is nothing to stop her

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Overview

Inspired by her own granddaughter Natalie, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, tells a story through a child’s eyes of what family life is like when a parent is at war across the world.

When her father leaves for a year of being at war, Natalie knows that she will miss him. Natalie is proud of her father, but there is nothing to stop her from wishing he was home. Some things do help her feel better. Natalie works with her Nana to send her dad and the other service men and women cookies and treats they have made. Natalie, her mom, and her brother can see and talk to Dad over the computer, and the kindness of friends at school and at church help her feel supported and loved. But there is nothing like the day when her Dad comes home at last.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (June)
From the Publisher
Second 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

Biden, wife of the vice president, watched for a year as her granddaughter, Natalie, dealt with the
deployment of her father to Iraq. Using Natalie’s experiences as a springboard, Biden chronicles what life
is like for a child with a parent fighting far from home. Natalie sits on her father’s lap as her mother
explains, “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” So do their children. Natalie has to comfort her
mother and help her younger brother through missing his dad. But there are glimmers of light as well: on
video chat, she shows her father her loose tooth; the family sends care packages overseas; and she
befriends a girl whose parent is also deployed. Connecting each spread are the words, “Be brave, Natalie.”
Through both the sensitive text and the art, there is always the feel of time passing until, finally, Natalie’s
father comes home. As always, Colón’s scratchboard-style art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil,
invites a closer look. Here readers will see how faith and community help military families. The excellent
back matter gives readers myriad ways that both adults and children can help military families in their own
communities.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Second Lady will no doubt attract publicity, and plenty of it.
But even on its own, this book is so full of wonderful ways to help the troops that it is a must for libraries.
— Booklist

Some of us are more susceptible than others, but it’s not uncommon for picture book illustrations to give almost anyone — grown-ups even more perhaps than children — the goose bumps. And no one’s better at eliciting them than Raúl Colón (“Good-Bye, Havana! Hola, New York!,” “Angela and the Baby Jesus”). In “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” his haunting image of a faded soldier standing outside an autumn window, as imagined by the daughter who awaits him at home, is nearly soaked in melancholy. “Daddy’s not here,” she thinks, “as she watches a red leaf drift past the window and out of sight.”

The girl in Colón’s picture is 5-year-old Natalie, who is worried and scared when her father is deployed abroad, leaving his family behind struggling to stay strong. She, her mother and her young brother, Hunter, go through the motions of Thanksgiving and the holidays without him. Whether attending church or losing a tooth or playing with toy soldiers, she is repeatedly urged, “Be brave, Natalie.”

“Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops” was written by Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. Their son is a major in the Army National Guard. This direct emotional connection to the experience of military families permeates the earnest and heartfelt text. But it is Colón’s illustrations that make the small moments — Hunter brushing away a tear, Natalie kissing a photograph of her father in uniform — so deeply affecting.

The New York Times, online

Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops.
Biden, Jill (Author) , Colon, Raul (Illustrator)
Jun 2012. 40 p. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, hardcover, $16.99. (9781442457355).

Biden, wife of the vice president, watched for a year as her granddaughter, Natalie, dealt with the
deployment of her father to Iraq. Using Natalie’s experiences as a springboard, Biden chronicles what life is like for a child with a parent fighting far from home. Natalie sits on her father’s lap as her mother
explains, “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” So do their children. Natalie has to comfort her
mother and help her younger brother through missing his dad. But there are glimmers of light as well:on
video chat, she shows her father her loose tooth; the family sends care packages overseas; and she
befriends a girl whose parent is also deployed. Connecting each spread are the words, “Be brave, Natalie.” Through both the sensitive text and the art, there is always the feel of time passing until, finally, Natalie’s father comes home. As always, Colón’s scratchboard-style art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, invites a closer look. Here readers will see how faith and community help military families. The excellent back matter gives readers myriad ways that both adults and children can help military families in their own communities.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY:
The Second Lady will no doubt attract publicity, and plenty of it.
But even on its own, this book is so full of wonderful ways to help the troops that it is a must for libraries.


— Booklist, June 1, 2012

Biden takes inspiration from her own family in relating this story about a five-year-old girl coping with her father’s military deployment. Natalie goes to school, church, the swimming pool, etc., but each activity is underscored by her sadness and anxiety about her dad. The recurring phrase, “Be brave, Natalie,” reminds her that she has a responsibility of her own. The mom or dad is the heroic soldier, but the soldier’s families demonstrate courage as well. The illustrations, done in watercolor, colored pencil, and lithograph pencil, are vibrant and appealing. They capture the emotion of the story but also show that this situation is daily life for many people. The full-page or two-page pictures invite viewers into the frame; there are no borders as barriers to intimacy. While keeping the story at a child-appropriate level, Biden reaches out to military youngsters to help them understand their own feelings and increases awareness for all children about military families in their communities. Back matter provides practical ways to support these families.– School Library Journal

Biden takes inspiration from her own family in relating this story about a five-year-old girl coping with her father’s military deployment. Natalie goes to school, church, the swimming pool, etc., but each activity is underscored by her sadness and anxiety about her dad. The recurring phrase, “Be brave, Natalie,” reminds her that she has a responsibility of her own. The mom or dad is the heroic soldier, but the soldier’s families demonstrate courage as well. The illustrations, done in watercolor, colored pencil, and lithograph pencil, are vibrant and appealing. They capture the emotion of the story but also show that this situation is daily life for many people. The full-page or two-page pictures invite viewers into the frame; there are no borders as barriers to intimacy. While keeping the story at a child-appropriate level, Biden reaches out to military youngsters to help them understand their own feelings and increases awareness for all children about military families in their communities. Back matter provides practical ways to support these families.– School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
Second 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)
Pamela Paul
Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops was written by Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. Their son is a major in the Army National Guard. This direct emotional connection to the experience of military families permeates the earnest and heartfelt text. But it is Colón's illustrations that make the small moments…so deeply affecting.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Based on her own family's experience of having a loved one serve in a time of war, Jill Biden relates a little girl's loneliness and anxiety as her Daddy must leave to do his duty for his country. Throughout the long year that her father is gone, Natalie goes about her everyday activities with thoughts of her father always present. In the winter she makes a snow soldier, and lovingly touches her Daddy's name in a special prayer book at her church. Natalie talks to her dad via the computer, tells her class about him and his troop, and conquers swimming by pretending she is swimming to him. Wearing her favorite camouflage T-shirt and playing soldier puppets with her little brother makes her dad seem closer. When she helps her grandmother pack and ship boxes overseas, Natalie knows she is helping to bring a touch of home to the soldiers. Her mantra throughout the long ordeal is always "Be Brave, Natalie" and it is one that sustains the whole family. Finally, the day comes when Natalie can run across the tarmac to leap into her father's arms and welcome him home. With so many children having a parent serving oversees, this sensitive reflection will be a comfort. This tender story will allow military children to see that they are not alone and will make others aware of the sacrifices made by families when a parent is deployed. Soft scratchboard illustrations in watercolor and pencil gently take the reader through Natalie's year. Appended are numerous ways that individuals, schools, and community groups can support the military. While Biden's story is very personal (she uses the actual names of her grandchildren) the experience is universal. Parents, classroom teachers, and school librarians will find a myriad of uses for the book. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Biden takes inspiration from her own family in relating this story about a five-year-old girl coping with her father's military deployment. Natalie goes to school, church, the swimming pool, etc., but each activity is underscored by her sadness and anxiety about her dad. The recurring phrase, "Be brave, Natalie," reminds her that she has a responsibility of her own. The mom or dad is the heroic soldier, but the soldier's families demonstrate courage as well. The illustrations, done in watercolor, colored pencil, and lithograph pencil, are vibrant and appealing. They capture the emotion of the story but also show that this situation is daily life for many people. The full-page or two-page pictures invite viewers into the frame; there are no borders as barriers to intimacy. While keeping the story at a child-appropriate level, Biden reaches out to military youngsters to help them understand their own feelings and increases awareness for all children about military families in their communities. Back matter provides practical ways to support these families.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442457355
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
302,670
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
380L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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