Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins: A World War II Soldier

The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins: A World War II Soldier

Walter Dean Myers
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 1999   ISBN: 978-0439050135

Scott, like so many of the other soldiers waiting in England, is eager to be off. Though he does not have the details he knows that any time now he and his unit are going to get on a boat which will carry them across the English Channel to begin the invasion of Europe - to begin the fight to take back the countries Germany took over. Like so many young men going to war Scott has very little sense of what he is going to be doing in France but he doesn?t care. All he wants is to be relieved of the boring waiting game they are all playing.

At last, on the night of June 5th, 1944 Scott is on a boat feeling both seasick and nervous. When his boat finally approaches the beach in Normandy, France, he soon sees that the task ahead of him is a horrific one. How is he going to get to the beach head without being killed as so many others have been?

Two days later on June 7th Scott is writing "I don't think I am going to make it through this fighting. It is too rough." Men are being killed or injured all around him and he is soon separated from his original unit. Not really knowing what is happening, Scott puts all of his energy into following orders and trying not to get killed. The young man moves inland terrified that he is going to come face to face with a German soldier any minute and yet somehow, by some miracle, he survives though many of his friends do not.

The almost painful descriptions of the suffering experienced by this young soldier makes this "My Name is America" book powerful and enlightening. Clearly all the stories Scott has heard about war are idealized and glamorized versions of the real story. First hand he experiences fear, anger, exhaustion, pain and loss and the good things in life, the simple things, become extremely important to him. This excellent tribute to the courageous soldiers who participated in D-Day would make a wonderful tool for teachers and parents to help their children understand what war is like in the real world.