Don't You Know There's a War On? by Avi

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Brooklyn, New York, 1943: a time and place so remarkable that a mere five years later, Howie Crispers, wise at sixteen, can look back to record its fleeting intensity, already long behind him in memory.

In 1943, Howie's pop is in the merchant marine, dodging Nazi U-boat wolf packs an the brutal North Atlantic sea. Denny, Howie's best friend, has a father in the Eighth Army, battling Nazi general Rommel in North Africa. Every day the boys face reminders of war -- scary headlines, blackouts, scrap collections, warstamp drives.

Saturday mornings, Denny and Howie both leave their worries and responsibilities behind at the 25-cent kid movies. During the week, they depend on Miss Rolanda Gossim, their teacher. She may be strict, but she's kind and a lot prettier than any movie pinup. She occupies the boys' fantasies and makes the war bearable for Class Five-B at Brooklyn's P.S. 8. When Howie discovers she's about to be fired, he needs to find out why, and -- with the help of Denny and the rest of their class -- he makes plans to keep her on the job.

By turns hilarious, sad, and surprising, Avi's latest tale is a touching story of innocent love and yearning that's rich with authentic Brooklyn voices and poignant memories of the early 1940s -- days when unexpected, even shocking events took place without warning, days when, no matter what happened, you could explain it all with a simple phrase: "Don't you know there's a war on?"


About Avi

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Avi was born in 1937, in the city of New York and raised in Brooklyn. He began his writing career as a playwright, and didn't start writing childrens books until he had kids of his own.
Published February 1, 2003 by Perfection Learning. 193 pages
Genres: War, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Don't You Know There's a War On?

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The 16-year-old narrator juggles everything from failing math grades and air raid blackouts to a crush on his teacher and worries about his merchant marine father crossing the North Atlantic, in this "poignant, funny coming of age tale set in Brooklyn during WWII," said PW in a starred review.

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Publishers Weekly

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How he ""saves"" Miss Gossim makes for a smashing story enlivened by the added emotional texture of a boy dealing with wartime realities (particularly the death of his ""bestest"" friend Denny's father) and romance (Miss Gossim is actually married to a missing airman and pregnant).

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Like many fathers, Howie Crispers's dad is away fighting in the war, going up against the Nazi U-boats.

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