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Stepping on the Cracks

by Mary Downing Hahn

Published by Clarion, 1991
216 pages
ISBN: 0-395-58507-4

Ages 9-12

World War II is raging overseas, and Margaret's own brother Jimmy is fighting in Europe. Although she worries about Jimmy and feels patriotism for the Allied efforts, Margaret is more immediately concerned with her and her friend Elizabeth's ongoing battles with classmate and bully Gordy. In a retaliatory move to one of Gordy's attacks, Margaret and Elizabeth follow him into the woods, only to discover that he is sheltering his older brother Stuart, an army deserter, in a hidden shack. At first scornful of Stuart's "cowardice," Margaret and Elizabeth eventually come to care for him. His feelings about combat cause Margaret to reconsider her own unconditional support of the war. When Stuart becomes seriously ill, Margaret and Elizabeth must join forces with Gordy to protect and care for his brother. A thought-provoking look at desertion and patriotism, this account doesn't offer facile answers or a comfortable conclusion to an ever-timely issue. CCBC categories: Fiction For Young Readers; History, People And Places.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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