Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab
Scholastic Press- March 28, 2017
Purpose: Requested for review
I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.
This is the story of three siblings as they adjust to living on an army post for the very first time. The Baileys are moving from Pennsylvania to Fort Patrick because their mom, a military intelligence officer has accepted a teaching position. All three kids are excited about this move, and even about starting a new school. They will finally be around people who understand military life. But not everything turns out the way that they thought that it would. Charlotte makes friends with a new girl, who happens to be very popular. But she soon discovers that popularity does not mean being nice. Tom, though he tries very hard not to, becomes the target of the base bully. Though Rosie is content with just her family and dog, Cupcake, she learns that it’s not so bad having a friend.
This is the third book by this author, and I must admit she has become a favorite. Not just for me, but for read a-louds with my son. She has a way of talking about very big (and sometimes complicated) topics and breaking them down to kid-size portion. And she does this without dumbing down anything. This is a rather short book, so I don’t want to go into details that will give anything away. But I will do my best. I do recommend this, especially for kids who are struggling with finding their place in the world, who are starting middle school and who may have trouble making friends.
Because of Tom’s interactions with the base bully, he begins to question himself. But as the siblings take on the challenge of the secret mission, he learns that there are worse things than someone teasing you – accepting the harmful words/taunts as truth. He gains a deeper and truer understanding of what it means to be brave, and not in the way that he thought he would. Charlotte has made friends with the school’s very own mean girls. She goes along with them even when her brother becomes the target of their meanness. Rosie is a spitfire of a character and is very comfortable being herself, even if it leaves her without any friends. But she slowly learns what it takes to be a good friend.
This was a very fun story, one that I will reread to my son as he grows. It deals with real issues and considers the individuality of the characters. How they respond to their situations is unique to their personalities. The solutions presented in the book, are realistic and highly recommended. There isn’t a false promise of a happily ever after at the end, and all problems are not solved with a nice little bow. All issues are resolved, and after the characters learn more about themselves, the only reassurance that they have at the end is that whatever comes their way, even the teasing and bullying, dealing with gossip and mean girls and all of the other things that come with the journey of middle school, they will be able to handle it.
If you have not had the opportunity to read any of Daphne Bendis-Grab’s work, I highly recommend it. I also recommend sharing it and passing it around to all the young readers in your life. That’s what I’m going to do.