Review of War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories

War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories
by Tim Wynne-Jones
Intermediate, Middle School    Groundwood    245 pp.    g
5/20    978-1-77306-047-7    $16.95
e-book ed.  978-1-77306-048-4    $11.99

Most of the protagonists in these nine short stories are twelve years old and bumping into the realities of human nature — their own personalities and those of the people around them. In the title story, set in 1964, Rex (from Wynne-Jones’s Rex Zero novels) is on a family vacation when he tangles with bullying older teen Skip at the motel pool. Compassion dawns as Rex catches on to the teen’s fear: the United States is newly at war with Vietnam, and Skip has just registered for the draft. The next hero, Ant, can’t resist telling people about the names of creatures he sees hidden in their names (for instance, classmate Vera Best has the letters of the word beaver in hers) and is mystified by how something so interesting might offend them. All nine stories are told in first person, so the situations the narrators find themselves in (such as dealing with an elderly adult with dementia, or a father who has changed personality) are vividly conveyed, as the reader always understands the protagonist’s perspective. The settings — or landscapes, as Wynne-Jones calls them in his lengthy afterword — are another strength. Varied, funny, and often very touching, this is a fine collection, perfect for reading aloud.

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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