Foster's War

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Meet eleven-year-old Foster Simmons, whose older brother, Mel, is fighting in World War II. At home with his demanding father, Foster does his best to win his own personal battles.

When his older brother joins the army during World War II in order to escape the rages of an authoritarian father, eleven-year-old Foster fights his battles on the homefront.

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Meet eleven-year-old Foster Simmons, whose older brother, Mel, is fighting in World War II. At home with his demanding father, Foster does his best to win his own personal battles.

When his older brother joins the army during World War II in order to escape the rages of an authoritarian father, eleven-year-old Foster fights his battles on the homefront.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Foster Simmons, the 11-year-old protagonist of this ambitious historical novel, is shocked by America's entry into WWII, but he is used to war at home. While his father stops short of physical abuse, his rages and his impossibly high standards create so much friction that Foster's older brother enlisted even before Pearl Harbor, just to get away from their California home. Reeder (Moonshiner's Son) dexterously splices together Foster's views of the domestic battlefield with his experience of WWII, from his best friend's internment in a camp for Japanese Americans to scrap drives at school. Readers will come away with a clear grasp of the period, especially because Reeder, in describing the prejudice against Japanese Americans, unveils a bit of the dark side of the nation's patriotic fervor. The characterizations, however, are less well balanced. The children, particularly the insightful Foster, are portrayed with considerably more subtlety than the adults (e.g., countering Mr. Simmons's despotism, Mrs. Simmons shows almost saintly patience). When change comes, it is sudden and nearly total, with a tragedy inspiring an almost-overnight transformation of the Simmons into an affectionate unit. Although the tidy wrap-up undercuts the re-creation of authentic and complex family tensions, it will not dim the sharp impression of homefront America nor Foster's fresh observations of it. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)
VOYA - Rachelle Bilz
Eleven-year-old Foster Simmons's life is drastically altered on December 7, 1941, when his brother Mel, home on leave from the Army Air Corps, is called back to base. Foster's fifth grade class listens to FDR's declaration of war on the radio and learns the proper procedure for air-raid drills. Foster finds himself faced with new responsibilities now that his mother does volunteer work and his father works overtime at the aircraft factory. Mr. Simmons, always distant and moody, is more remote than ever. Foster's older sister Evelyn is caught up in the family's Victory Garden and six-year-old Ricky is terrified of airplanes. Not only does Foster have to baby-sit Ricky, he must also cope with the loss of his best friend Jimmy Osaki, who has been sent to a relocation camp with his family. It is Foster who is at home to sign for the telegram containing the grim news of Mel's death. When the Purple Heart medal arrives, the Simmons family feels both sorrow and pride. Reeder's novel effectively enables the reader to experience the impact of World War II on a typical middle-class family. The letters from Mel, the family gathered around the radio, the articles in Life magazine, the rationing of sugar and gas, the treatment of the Japanese; all these contribute to an excellent evocation of life in America during the Second World War. Written in a simple, straightforward manner, Foster's War is a good historical fiction choice for middle school students. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
The ALAN Review - Susanne L. Johnson
Foster Simmons heads up the Youth for the War effort of his fifth-grade class in San Diego during World War II, while his brother joins the army to escape an overbearing father. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Foster's best friend, Jimmy Osaki, is forced into a Japanese internment camp. As the war escalates, Foster learns that war isn't just adults fighting battles overseas. Young people also fight through buying war bonds, collecting scrap metal and rubber, and babysitting siblings so mothers can volunteer for the Red Cross Nurses' Aide Corps. Carolyn Reeder's touching and realistic story shows the transition from the innocence of children's war games to the disturbing realities of conflict. It is a credible account of the patriotism that inspired the U.S. during WWII, and it educates younger readers about our history.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7Foster, 11, isn't sure whether it's the war with Japan he should fear more or the war in his own southern California household. To escape their father's psychological abuse, his older brother Mel has left school and enlisted in the Air Force. The three younger siblings have developed various coping strategies to escape their father's cruel and damaging behavior. The man expects perfection from his children and his wife, who attempts to placate him and be the peacemaker. Against this explosive backdrop, the family learns of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now they must worry about possible Japanese air raids as well as Mel's safety. Foster finds himself coping with bewildering changes, including the loss of his best friend, a Japanese-American boy relocated to an internment camp. He and an understanding elderly neighbor become friends, and this relationship helps him through some difficult times. The period details are well presented: the importance of the radio, the homefront groups mobilizing the war effort, weekly reports in Life magazine. However, the father is a difficult character to appreciate. Like his children, readers are expected to overcome a thorough dislike of him too quickly. To understand his background does not help to forgive him his treatment of innocents. The long-suffering mother will also be difficult for young readers to accept, but her behavior and attitudes are true to the era. A flawed effort about World War II and the war effort at home.Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid and compelling piece of historical fiction that also serves as a telling commentary on the effects an abusive parent has on his family. By the time the US enters WW II in December 1941, Mel Simmons is already in the armed forces, driven from home by his tyrannical father. Foster, 11, his little brother, Ricky, sister Evelyn, and mother are left behind to cope not only with Mr. Simmons, who grows meaner in Mel's absence, but with the austerity of life on the home front. Home life becomes even more difficult when his best friend, Jimmy, a Japanese-American, is relocated to an internment camp, and when the family learns that Mel has been killed in action. Foster's heartbroken mother, suffering herself and witnessing the devastation of her family, takes steps to bring them back from the brink by divulging a long-kept secret about Mr. Simmons and showing them a family album of times when they were younger. By story's end, all of them have taken the first tentative steps toward reconciliation, a moving and believable conclusion to a story of a family in conflict. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590098564
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 267
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 940L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.56 (w) x 5.18 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2003

    A war at home

    Foster¿s War, by Carolyn Reeder, is about $4.50, copyright date 1998, published by Scholastic. Foster, an 11 year old boy is living in California at the time of WWII. He doesn¿t know which war is more dangerous, war at home because of his high tempered father, or WWII. Foster is a fascinating person with a funny and well-mannered personality. Foster¿s dad gets so high tempered that Foster¿s brother Mel leaves home and enlists for the army. When Foster receives a letter that his bother is missing in action and then finally called dead, how will the family come together? This book is recommended for ages 10-14.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    A boy's battle with a changing world.

    During the months following Pearl Harbor, 11 yr old Foster Simmons must deal with his older brother leaving to go to war & possibly dying, his bossy, authoritarian father slowly & steadily becoming softer & nicer, his mother getting a job (which, back during WWII, wasn¿t very common), & making friends he had never talked to before in his life, while losing a friend close to his heart. I liked this book because it showed me what having a family member in a war would be like. It also showed me what it would be like living during a major war. I didn¿t like this book because¿well, actually there is nothing in this book I didn¿t like. I thought it was a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2003

    What a War

    This intriguing book, Foster¿s War, is written by a great author Carolyn Reeder.(Scholastic Inc., 1998, $4.50) Foster¿s War is a historical fiction taking place December, 1941 in California. The Japs have just bombed Pearl Harbor and on top of all that his brother, Mel has to go fight. His only friend, Jimmy, was relocated to a camp. He then needs a friend so he makes friends with Victor, an old enemy of his. Foster and his younger brother Ricky, read to there neighbor everyday because there mom is in the Red Cross and there Dad workes a lot and is really pitiful towards Rick and him. Read this outstanding book to find out what happens to the Simmons family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2003

    An Introduction to Another Era

    FOSTER¿S WAR By Carolyn Reeder Take your kids on a journey back in time to 1941. Foster Simmons¿ best friend is a Japanese-American boy named Jimmy Osaki; his oldest brother is in the US Army. When the Pearl Harbor is attacked, Jimmy and his family are sent to an internment camp and his brother is sent to the South Pacific. This book chronicles the struggles of a fifth grade boy, facing life with rations, racial prejudice and a tyrannical father. Full of historical reference to the introduction of women in the workplace, life in the Great Depression, air raid drills, World War II propaganda and coupled with the emotion of the battlefield death of the older brother, Foster¿s War is poignant and topical in our nation¿s present state of military conflict. Published by Scholastic, the story is free of sexual references and vulgarity. Foster¿s War¿s 266 pages are a reasonable read for book reports. Thought provoking and written for grades 4 and up, children will come away from this story with lots of good historical insight and questions for their grandparents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

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