Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck

My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck

Mary Pope Osborne
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2000   ISBN: 978-0590687157

With her father serving in the military, Madeline and her mother have moved into a boarding house on Long Island. There they have to get on as best they can, trying not to worry too much about Maddie’s father, and doing what they can for the war effort. It is hard for Maddie at first because she feels so left out and lonely. Then Madeline makes friends with Johnny Vecchio and the two children decide to form a club called Kids Fight For Freedom. Secretly Johnny and Maddie patrol the beaches making sure that there aren’t any U-boats patrolling off-shore. On the more practical side the club also makes first aid kits, collects used books to send to servicemen, sells War Bonds and much more. Soon Maddie is too busy to worry too much about her father.

Then Maddie and her mother get a telegram about her father who has been "critically wounded." Maddie’s life seems to collapse around her. Her situation is only made worse when she encounters some strange and frightening men on the beach one evening. Maddie cannot help being terrified by the strangers and by the threats that they make to her.

All too often people forget to recognize how hard life was for the women and children who stayed home waiting and hoping to hear from their fathers, sons, brothers, and sweethearts who were serving their country far away in a distant war. Mary Pope Osborne remembers these waiting families giving them faces, voices, stories, and recognition for their courage, patience and hard work.