by Gloria Whelan (Author) Kirbi Fagan (Illustrator)
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A nostalgic storybook feel permeates this meandering historical narrative, which follows white Charlie Brightelot, nine, of northern Michigan, and his summer encounters with the Civilian Conservation Corps, who move into nearby woodland barracks during the Great Depression. Charlie's bespectacled, sandy blond father doubts the usefulness of President Roosevelt "shipping fellows with no jobs up here from the city." But after Charlie befriends a white, high school-age CCC member named Luke, the men prove their mettle when a forest fire endangers the woods. Fagan firmly grounds readers in the 1930s, with stylized digital art evoking painted advertisements from the time period. National Book Award winner Whelan utilizes dense prose paragraphs and substantial dialogue, which may put off some readers, but those interested in history will appreciate this gentle, richly contextualized tale. Back matter includes an author's note. Ages 7-8. (Mar.)Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.