I’m Still SCARED
Ages 7 to 9
Penguin Putnum, 2006, 0-399-24502-2
Everything in Tomie’s world feels strange. It is December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and all the grownups are behaving oddly. The teachers are whispering together, looking worried and upset and the worst part of all is that no one is explaining what is going on to the children. What does this all mean?
It is only when Tomie tells his grandfather about his worries that his parents begin to realize that Tomie needs to understand what is happening. He needs to know why they are having air raid drills at school and why his mother is making black out curtains for the windows in their home. Often Tomie hears the grownups talk about how they won’t be able to do something again until the war is over. It is almost as if the war is taking over their entire lives.
But, life still goes on. Tomie still goes to dance class and he still has a wonderful time learning tap steps and routines. In spite of everything Christmas still comes with the customary gifts, decorations and tree. Tomie and his family do their best to enjoy their times together though it is hard to forget that the war is always there, somewhere in the background.
This is a very poignant and sympathetic account of a little boy’s first experience of war. War and violence is confusing, especially to the young, and children will be reassured to see that it takes Tomie time understand what is happening to his world. It is all right to ask questions and it is very important for grownups to recognize that children need reassurance and explanations at such times. Young readers will enjoy reading Tomie’s diary entries which give a picture of what Tomie’s life during the war years is like.
This is the sixth book in the “26 Fairmount Avenue” series.
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