By Gary D. Schmidt
Read by Lincoln Hope
I loved, loved, loved this historical fiction book! This was one of the books I listened to on the start of my summer vacation–sometimes I did not want to get out of my car because I wanted to hear what happened next. This is also a great book to make prediction about what is going to happen next.
Doug Swieteck was on top of the world; he had a Joe Pepitone autographed hat given to him by the New York Yankee Joe himself, he just finished up seventh grade and life was good. Then his dad uproots the family because he lost his job and takes them to upstate New York to a little town called Marysville. Doug’s whole life gets turned upside down! They move into a very tiny house that Doug calls “the dump”. Dad feeling more powerless becomes more abusive at home, mom is submissive, his oldest brother gets seriously wounded in the Vietnam War, his other brother is looking for trouble and Doug is lost. He will be starting 8th grade and is already on the bad side of the principal and no one knows his secret struggles with reading. He has no friends, his only prized possession–his Joe Pepitone hat was taken by his brother and destroyed, he dreads starting school and feels powerless.
But the late 1960’s filled not only with a depressive war and poor economy but with vibrant exploration of the Apollo Space Mission and the epic moonwalk. For Doug 1968/69 was filled with that same vibrant exploration when we wanders into the Marysville Public Library and discovers the plates of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. He is mesmerized by the birds and the librarian, Mr. Powell, helps him to discover his love of art as he begins to draw and paint these same birds. He also meets Lil Spicer outside the library and not only does she show him how to drink an icy cold Coke but she supports his discovery of the maginificent Audubon Birds and her dad gives him a Saturday delivery job.
Travel with Doug as he discovers who Doug Swietck is and meet some of the most colorful and unforgettable characters he encounters along the way! This book made me angry, made me laugh and made me cry! What more could you want from a wonderful written book!
Would love to pair this book with research on: Vietnam War, attitudes of Americans about Vietnam Vets, Apollo Space Missions, walking on the moon, John James Audubon, and Joe Pepitone and the New York Yankees.
Author Website: Gary D. Schmidt