Davy Bowman is the luckiest of boys. He lives on a street “where it is always summer when it isn’t Halloween or Christmas.” He plays games of hide and seek with the neighborhood kids until dark. The dads played, too, “once in awhile before they went to war or worked Sunday shift.” Davy’s Dad always played. World War II changed life on Davy’s street, but it didn’t change the fact that his Dad and his big brother Bill were his heroes.
Bill’s career as a fighter pilot and the events of the war provide the framework for this heartwarming tale of family life in middle America during World War II. Author Richard Peck pays tribute to own father in the person of Davy’s Dad, Earl. Davy’s hero worship of his father is not misplaced; we learn through the events of the story that Earl Bowman is a man of character, a family man who has earned the love and respect of his young son.
The story shows us life on the home front with authentic historic detail and humor. Davy and his friend Scooter go to school and have adventures that take them beyond the confines of their street, entertaining us they do. The boys decide to collect scrap metal for the war effort- twenty pounds will earn them a ticket to a Saturday matinee-doing so takes them to the haunted house on the edge of town. There they meet Mr. Stonecypher, who “looks like Father Time” and, the boys suspect, has a body stashed in his old trunk. The search for milkweed (needed to stuff flotation devices) brings them face to face with Euliala Tate. Miss Tate totes a blunderbuss and has a face that looks “like a walnut.” The boys suppose her to be the oldest, scariest woman in the world, but she turns out to one of the stories richest characters.
The book celebrates family life and sacrifice. The story is realistic but not graphic; there are family tensions, playground extortion, and even an appearance by organized crime. The characters in this book face their difficulties with integrity and an appreciation for what is good in life, giving us a good read that tugs at our heartstrings and makes us laugh along the way.
Margaret Hannon is a homeschooling mother. She and her husband live in Bolton, MA with five of their eight children.