Anne-with-an-e and Betsy were reluctant to begin this book, because, "It's about boys!" I reminded them that some of our favorite people are boys: Atticus, of course (and they'll someday love fictional Atticus as much as they love our Atticus). Matthew Cuthbert. Dickon. Colin (once Mary Lennox works her magic.) Peter Pevensie (and Edmund -- later, of course.) Lew Tucker. Pa Ingalls. Wilbur the pig.
"You have no problem with boys," I assured them, and we started the book.
"I like this book," Betsy proclaimed, three pages into it.
I liked it, too. It has everything one would expect from Hilda van Stockum: serious subject matter, balanced with humor; an unflinching examination of right and wrong; real children who say and do real things; excitement, suspense, danger and surprises; heartwrenching (but not graphic) realism depicting the losses and grief families suffered in World War II; real friendship; faith. And, it has something else every child loves: puppies.
It also offers this lovely little tribute to mothers:
Father stretched out his big hand and put it over Mother's.
"Boys," he said, "I want you to look at this wonderful, brave little mother of yours. Do you know who suffered the most during the war? The mothers. Do you know who worked the hardest? The mothers. And do you know who will get the least praise? The mothers. You haven't any idea, and you never will have, what it cost your mother to keep going, never daunted, never giving up, taking each new blow in her stride and keeping you all happy under the worst possible conditions. Come on, boys, let's give her a cheer. To Mother! Hip, hip, hurrah!"
I wanted to cheer, too.
The Winged Watchman is a beautiful book and has quickly become a treasured favorite of my girls.
Even if it is about boys.
[Next up: A review of Snow Treasure, which we just finished. After that: Escape from Warsaw. We just started this one, and already Betsy is begging for the next read-aloud session every time I put the book down. Such a good sign ....]