Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

When the Sergeant Came Marching Home

When the Sergeant Came Marching Home

Don Lemna
For ages 9 to 12
Holiday House, 2008   ISBN: 978-0823420834

When Donald's father, the Sergeant, comes home from the war, Donald is, at first, excited and pleased to see him. His younger brother Pat barely knows the Sergeant and the little six year old is a little confused about who he is. The family begins to settle into a new routine and all is going well when the Sergeant suddenly announces that he has bought a farm and that they are all going to move out into the country. Donald is appalled. How will he play with friends and go to the movies if he lives out in the middle of nowhere? How can the Sergeant do this to them?

Matters are not made any easier by the fact that the farm house is somewhat the worse for wear. Not only does it need a lot of work, but it also has no electricity and no indoor bathroom. Donald won't even be able to listen to his favorite radio programs. After the Sergeant makes the boys clean out an old chicken coop, Donald decides that his only option is to run away from home. He will go to Hollywood and mow the lawns of movie stars. Of course he will need to save some money before he can leave, but he is sure that he will, soon enough, be able to leave the dreadful farm for good. What Donald does not plan on are all the interesting and even enjoyable things that happen while he saves money for his big run away adventure.

With wonderful tongue-in-cheek humor Dom Lemna tells a delightful story about a young boy's experiences as he tries to adjust to a new life on a farm. The adventures that he has are of a domestic and everyday nature, but they are warmly funny and engaging. Readers will identify with the ten-year-old boy who so much wants his life to go back to the way it was before his father came home. As the story unfolds, readers get to know Donald and his family. They also come to appreciate what life was like in America after World War II ended, and how hard farming life can be.