When the Sergeant Came Marching Home

Overview

A funny and warmhearted first novel about the spirited adventures of ten-year-old Donald and his brother, Pat, as they adjust to life on a farm after World War II.

At first, Donald is excited that his father is home from the war. Then the Sergeant decides to move the family to a middle-of-nowhere farm. Donald can't believe it, and resolves to run away just as soon as he has enough money. In the meantime, though, there's plenty to do, like ...
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Overview

A funny and warmhearted first novel about the spirited adventures of ten-year-old Donald and his brother, Pat, as they adjust to life on a farm after World War II.

At first, Donald is excited that his father is home from the war. Then the Sergeant decides to move the family to a middle-of-nowhere farm. Donald can't believe it, and resolves to run away just as soon as he has enough money. In the meantime, though, there's plenty to do, like making friends with a cheerful, storytelling hermit; locking his cousin into an outhouse until she staggers out, screaming vengeance; and doing his best to get his little brother Pat, who only cares about ducks, into trouble. Full of wry, affectionate humor, this novel shows how one family becomes whole again, from the viewpoint of a delightfully rambunctious protagonist.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverly Melasi
When ten-year-old Donald and his six-year-old brother Pat learn that their father is coming home from World War II, they are very happy, but the gladness turns to sadness as they meet the man whom they now call Sergeant instead of dad. When their parents decide to move to the country where they have purchased an old, dilapidated farm, Donald is devastated. There is not even any electricity! A city boy at heart, he has to work hard, because he and his parents are always trying to make ends meet. Donald vows to save ten dollars and move to California to get as far away from the Sergeant as he can. Through trials and tribulations, Donald learns to respect the Sergeant and decides to make in the best of this place they call home. This wonderful story depicts life after World War II, before cell phones and microwaves. Reviewer: Beverly Melasi
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6- Ten-year-old Donald is miserable now that his father, the Sergeant, has returned home from World War II and moved the family to a farm in rural Montana, miles away from Wistola. Horrified at the lack of modern conveniences (their ramshackle house has neither electricity nor indoor plumbing) and angry at the Sergeant, Donald secretly plans to run away to Hollywood. However, as time passes, he and his younger brother begin to enjoy country living, riding their elderly horse, skating and playing hockey on a neighbor's frozen slough, romping with their new mutt, and making friends at their one-room schoolhouse. The boys also demonstrate their profound gift for imagination in the games they play outdoors. Donald's first-person narration is filled with humor and wit. Lemna conveys a true sense of farm life and all its difficulties, with each chapter describing the brothers' various adventures. The mood is light and playful throughout, with appropriately serious moments marking the maturity that Donald gains, particularly in his attitude toward his father. The narrative is simple, with a few choice vocabulary words that can be explored through language lessons. The historical references also lend an opportunity for curriculum connections; the book provides an accessible look at post-World War II American life and can initiate study of cultural differences between that era and our 21st-century lives. Well written and entertaining.-Bethany A. Lafferty, Las Vegas-Clark County Library, NV

Kirkus Reviews
"Early in the summer of 1946, an infantry sergeant returned from the war and ruined my life by forcing me to move from our comfortable basement apartment in Wistola, Mont., out to a farm in the middle of nowhere." Ten-year-old Donald immediately begins secretly saving money to run away to Hollywood. How can he be expected to live without friends, movies, indoor plumbing and electricity? The nearest neighbors are a family of girls. Sergeant (his dad) says he can't have a dog until they can afford a German Shepherd. Donald's only friend is his six-year-old brother, Pat, who happens to love farm life. But Miss Scott, his new teacher, is awfully pretty and talented, and nothing beats playing hockey all winter. Bringing to mind the works of Robert Newton Peck and Jean Shepherd, Canadian Lemna's first American publication is a welcome addition to the transplanted-city-boy genre. Each chapter is a self-contained episode, making this a perfect bedtime book full of heart and more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823420834
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Lemna was raised on the prairies, the child of an American father and Canadian mother. After a career in the Canadian Armed Forces, he retired from the military with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He took up writing to pass the time and has published plays and novels for children in Canada. The Seargent Came Marching Home is his first work to be published in America. He has been married to his wife, Deanna, for over forty years, loves reading and music, and every spring without fail, plants way too many flowers.
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