War and Millie McGonigle
Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect—but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie's sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn't be more of a pain if she tried. It's all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.
“Transforms grim history into a light for dark times.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Cushman offers readers a sympathetic, spirited heroine and a vividly evoked setting, chockfull of sensory detail. ‘I … sniffed deeply of the rich, salty, fishy smell of the mud. Gulls screeched like rusty hinges as they soared above me, and flocks of curlews and sandpipers scratched for bugs for breakfasts. There was plenty of life on the bay but a peaceful stillness, too, that comforted me when I needed comforting.’” (The Horn Book)
“Each chapter begins with a date, building momentum to December 7 and the attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that sends both her parents back to work and thrusts more responsibility on Millie. Cushman’s relationships prove well grounded, and Millie’s first-person voice effectively builds strength as she heals from her grandmother’s death and embraces the future.” (Publishers Weekly)
Behind the Book
On December 7, 1941, war came to America’s children. Some picked up toy guns and shot at pretend enemies. Others had nightmares for the rest of their lives. Millie McGonigle thought the war came like an earthquake and shook everything and everybody up. I wondered how she, after suffering through the depravations of the Depression, coped with the upheaval. I knew she’d need to find courage and solace somewhere.
For many years I’d heard my husband’s stories about their small house on Mission Bay. The warm bay water lapped at the sand when the tide was in. There was swimming and surfing, and children went without shoes from June until September, and their feet grew calloused and summer wide. Phil would row his small boat out where the reeds and grass grew tall and read comic books until his nose was sunburned and his empty stomach growled.
Most intriguing to me as I listened were descriptions of the vast mudflats, stinking, slippery, and mysterious, which appeared like magic when the tide was out. The mud was pocked with pickleweed and eelgrass. Shoals and small islands, home to colonies of mussels and sand dollars that stood on end in soldier-like rows, were revealed.
I knew I wanted this for anxious, fearful, worried Millie. As the world changed, Millie could find strength and wisdom through simple things and the natural world, nurtured and soothed by the tides flowing in and out, the fishy smell of the mud flats, the squawks of the gulls, the peace of the small waves on the bay, and the sparkle of the sun on the quiet blue water. So Millie moved into South Mission Beach, San Diego, and you can find her and her story there