Friday, September 18, 2015

Cold War on Maplewood Street

Cold War on Maplewood Street by Gayle Rosengren. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. Highly recommended for ages 8-12.

War was something that happened in other countries, not here in the United States. Not in Chicago on Maplewood Street (p. 21).

On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised address to  the American people about the discovery of Soviet nuclear tipped missiles in Cuba and his response to that threat: a naval blockade of the island. In the tense days that followed, U.S. and Soviet warships sped to the island and the two Cold War superpowers stood “eyeball to eyeball”. The world hovered at the edge of a nuclear precipice.

As the story in Cold War on Maplewood Street unfolds, we meet sixth grader Joanna who loves her dog, Dixie, horses, and mystery books. She lives with her single mom in a basement apartment. Her beloved older brother, Sam, is in the Navy and her best friend, Pam, lives upstairs.  She is attracted to the new student in her class, Theo, but too embarrassed to talk to him. However, Joanna has a lot to worry about. A latchkey child, she’s home alone frequently after school and fears that robbers may break into her basement apartment. She wonders about the strange lady in the upstairs apartment who always seems to be watching Joanna from her window ...  could the old lady be a spy? She misses Sam, but won’t write to him or read his letters, because he broke his promise to her that he would never leave like her father did. One of the popular girls in school is having a boy-girl party that Joanna’s mom feels she’s too young to attend.

President Kennedy’s televised speech triggers unpleasant memories of her father and the disastrous last visit she had with Sam. As tensions mount between the two superpowers, fears at home grow. People begin to stockpile supplies and students practice air raid drills at school. Joanna worries about her brother’s safety and she finally begins writing to him. But he does not reply? Has he given up on her? Or is his ship involved in the  blockade?

Want to know more? Please see my full review at Good Reads with Ronna. Thanks to Ronna Mandel for letting me keep the review copy for my library.

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