Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Jeanette Ingold
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Harcourt, 2006   ISBN: 978-0152056193

Moss’ future is looking bright. He has been accepted into radio school and he has a job so he is able to help his ma out. With the Depression going on, having a job at all is quite an achievement. Then Moss’ boss fires him and he gets a letter from his ma saying that his pa isn’t sending any money to her anymore. She is worried because she doesn’t know what has happened to him. Has he been injured or even killed on the WPA job that he took? Moss can hardly believe how suddenly his life has taken such a drastic turn for the worse. Without thinking too hard about anything he decides to go to find out what happened to his pa. Perhaps he can find some way to help him if he is in trouble.

What he finds out is that his Pa was too proud to work on the WPA job for long. Now he is a drunk who cannot hold down a job and he thinks it is better to have no job than to accept what he considers to be “charity.” He and Moss get arrested for riding the rails without paying and the judge recommends that Moss get a job with the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps. His pa sneers at the CCC but Moss, who decides to leave his father to his own drunken devices, decides to give the CCC a try.

Moss begins by being just one of the boys, learning how to live according to the CCC rules, working hard, and making new friends. But it isn’t long before he finds himself working on building a new CCC camp on the edge of a town in Montana, and he and the rest of the crew have only six weeks to get the camp built. The conditions are very rough and the weather is often brutal. Nevertheless the boys and their supervisors work incredibly hard and somehow they manage to get the job done. Moss proves that he has excellent leadership skills and when the new recruits arrive at the camp Moss is promoted to junior leader rank. He is more than just a little worried about this new role that he is play. Does he have what it takes to be a leader? Will he be able to speak for his men when they need him to and will he be able to stand up for them in front of the officers?

Many of us have heard of the CCC but do we really know what this group of people did and how important the organization was during the Depression? Through Moss’ story young readers will discover how vital the CCC was for hundreds of young men who literally had no where else to go. The CCC gave them a home, a means to make money which they could send home to their families, and a means to get some skills which they could use later in life. The CCC also gave them some self respect, something which the poverty and hopelessness of the Depression had stripped them of. For Moss and his friends building that camp gave them a great sense of accomplishment. Many other young men like them must have had similar experiences during their “hitch” with the CCC.