War and Watermelon

( 4 )

Overview

It's the summer of 1969. We've just landed on the moon, the Vietnam War is heating up, the Mets are beginning their famous World Series run, and Woodstock is rocking upstate New York. Down in New Jersey, twelve-year-old Brody is mostly concerned with the top ten hits on the radio and how much playing time he'll get on the football team. But when he goes along for the ride to Woodstock with his older brother and sees the mass of humanity there, he starts to wake up to the world around him-a world that could take ...

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War and Watermelon

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Overview

It's the summer of 1969. We've just landed on the moon, the Vietnam War is heating up, the Mets are beginning their famous World Series run, and Woodstock is rocking upstate New York. Down in New Jersey, twelve-year-old Brody is mostly concerned with the top ten hits on the radio and how much playing time he'll get on the football team. But when he goes along for the ride to Woodstock with his older brother and sees the mass of humanity there, he starts to wake up to the world around him-a world that could take away the brother he loves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brody Winslow narrates a month in his life in 1969, just as he's about to start seventh grade in suburban New Jersey. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon a month earlier, the Vietnam War is raging, and Brody's beloved older brother, Ryan, will turn 18—and become eligible for the draft—in less than 30 days. The central conflict is between Brody's father and Ryan, who resists applying to college because he's not ready, but has no alternative to being drafted. Even Brody understands how high the stakes are: "It's not like he can stop the calendar from turning just by ignoring it." As Brody reports his anxiety over the familial tension, he relates his budding interest in girls and his shaky spot on the rec league football team. Wallace's (the Kickers series) slice-of-life tale doesn't entirely capitalize on its material—the life and death choices teens in Ryan's era had to make—but a trip to Woodstock and a less successful venture to Shea Stadium to see the improbably streaking Mets firmly ground Brody's narrative in the period. Ages 10–up. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—August 1969 is a confusing time in the life of Brody Winslow. In episodic chapters, he offers an endearing, straightforward account (with occasional poetry) of his worries about starting junior high, about girls and his own social status, and about the chance that his brother, Gary, could go to Vietnam. Frequent references to the music, pop culture, and politics situate readers in the time and place, as the New Jersey teen hangs out at the public pool with his friend Alex, listens to the latest hits on the radio, and tries not to screw up at football practice. Wallace clearly aims to give young people a means to experience this historic summer through the eyes of a kid also just dealing with adolescence. Early in the book, Gary takes Brody to Woodstock, where they encounter the traffic, mud, hippies, and drugs; later on Gary is arrested at an antiwar vigil in Rochester. The narrative can at times seem convenient or didactic, but Brody's experiences at awkward dances, at football practice, and as buffer between his constantly arguing dad and brother will ring true. Sports fans will appreciate the play-by-play football action and Mets references, and music fans might be inspired to look up Joan Baez or Sly and the Family Stone. This novel is less nuanced and complex than Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007), though the references to drugs, nudity, drinking, and occasional raw language suggest older, reluctant readers.—Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA
Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
The year is 1969; the place, a suburb in New Jersey; the hero, twelve-year-old Brody, who senses his "whole life's about to change." The story takes place over the course of a month—the end of summer through the first weeks of seventh grade. Though he engages in typical adolescent ventures (football tryouts; meeting girls; following the Mets), he is also involved in a bigger, much more serious issue: the possibility of his beloved big brother, Ryan, being sent to Vietnam. Their father wants Ryan (who is days away from his eighteenth birthday) to enroll in college to avoid the draft; their mother is willing to drive him to Canada if necessary; and Ryan wants to live life on his own terms, and participate in peaceful war protests. As Brody witnesses family arguments—and accompanies Ryan to Woodstock!—he comes to terms with his own fears and doubts: "How could I wimp out... when I compare it to what Ryan's facing?" This is a good read, full of the color and music and high emotions of the time. The characters are well-drawn; the family dynamics believable; and the relationship between Brody and Ryan warm and endearing. Although the football storyline pales beside the draft conflict, readers will get a good feel for a fascinating period their parents, or even grandparents, remember all too well. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—August 1969 is a confusing time in the life of Brody Winslow. In episodic chapters, he offers an endearing, straightforward account (with occasional poetry) of his worries about starting junior high, about girls and his own social status, and about the chance that his brother, Gary, could go to Vietnam. Frequent references to the music, pop culture, and politics situate readers in the time and place, as the New Jersey teen hangs out at the public pool with his friend Alex, listens to the latest hits on the radio, and tries not to screw up at football practice. Wallace clearly aims to give young people a means to experience this historic summer through the eyes of a kid also just dealing with adolescence. Early in the book, Gary takes Brody to Woodstock, where they encounter the traffic, mud, hippies, and drugs; later on Gary is arrested at an antiwar vigil in Rochester. The narrative can at times seem convenient or didactic, but Brody's experiences at awkward dances, at football practice, and as buffer between his constantly arguing dad and brother will ring true. Sports fans will appreciate the play-by-play football action and Mets references, and music fans might be inspired to look up Joan Baez or Sly and the Family Stone. This novel is less nuanced and complex than Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007), though the references to drugs, nudity, drinking, and occasional raw language suggest older, reluctant readers.—Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA
Kirkus Reviews

Twelve-year-old Brody Winslow says, "It feels like my whole life's about to change. Moving into junior high is like stepping out of childhood, whether you want to or not."

And the summer of 1969 is an exciting and confusing time to grow up. When Brody's first-person account begins, it's August 11th. Men walked on the Moon last month, Woodstock starts on Friday, the Vietnam War is raging in the background, the Mets are losing as usual and Brody is beginning to be interested in girls, even if he does see himself as uncool, scrawny and awkward. Older brother Ryan turns 18 soon, draft age, a cause for conflict with his father, who wants Ryan in college, safely deferred. Mr. Winslow may be gruff, but readers may see his point of view as much as Ryan's, who never comes off as an angry young peacenik, more a kid playing at possibilities. Mrs. Winslow, from the background, offers food as a palliative for all family crises. Wallace (Wrestling Sturbridge, 1996, etc.) may throw a barrage of historical references in the opening chapters, details jammed in like rock fans at Woodstock, but he still manages an accessible story rooted in a colorful time.

Readers will enjoy Brody's story as he, in these few weeks, makes one small step toward manhood. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142421383
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 7/19/2012
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,367,994
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.52 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Rich Wallace lives in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Its Good

    Dont worry i read part of the real begining on my bffs nook...it was awesome but the thing that sucks is the stupid sample that doesnt even start the book....anyone whos werry about it dont worry you will be satified....i was for the first 102 pages!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    What is with the sample???

    The sample dosent even start the story! I dont know if i should get it. Please help

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Should i?

    Should i get this book? It looks really good.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Yg

    I mean , LOOK AT THE COVER!!!!!!!!!! IT SHOULD GRAB UR PEOPLES ATTENTION BUT NOOOOOOOOOOO. It did for me. READ THE AWESOMELY EPIC BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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