Another Old Movie Blog: Off Topic

December 27, 2010 – 06:58

This involves a possible book about children’s books written during World War II, about that war. We’re not talking about any classics of children’s literature here, no Caldecott or Newbery Award winners; what I mean are those series books, the pulp novels that engaged teens and pre-teens with a weird combination of childlike adventure and all-too adult angst about the consequences of not doing one’s patriotic duty during the war.

Other series followed a theme of wartime service but featured different characters. Whitman Publishing, who practically cornered the market in children’s series books at the time, produced several pulp novels under their “Fighters for Freedom Series”. This gave us “Nancy Dale - Army Nurse”, “Dick Donnelly of the Paratroops”, “Norma Kent of the WACS, ” “Sally Scott of the WAVES”. “Kitty Carter of the Canteen Corps” showed us we didn’t necessarily have to be in the military to help the war effort.

The publisher touted these as “Thrilling novels of war and adventure for modern boys and girls.”

It was a tough being a modern boy or girl when war might be all you remembered, and would determine a future you could not imagine, a future which seemed to hang precariously on whether or not you displayed your full measure of devotion and courage. Just eating your vegetables wasn't good enough anymore.

There are several elements to these stories which are quite striking. One is the, in some cases, unsparing description of death and cruelty, and the fatalistic manner in which the tone of these stories seems to indicate the young reader should accept these conditions. Nancy Dale’s troop ship is torpedoed, and she spends several days in a lifeboat with a handful of other nurses and crew members. One dies and they dump the body overboard.

At one point in the story she receives word her brother is missing in action and presumed dead. A family friend, comforting her, tells her not to hold out much hope of his survival. “Don’t let wishful thinking keep you from facing reality, my dear. There’re many things worse than death in this war.” How would a kid, who had relatives in the war, take this message?

If you find these books today, the pages are yellowed, few of them have book jackets left intact, but many of them have the signatures of the children to whom they belonged. Or, in this case of this flyleaf of “Norma Kent of the WACS” - “To Shirley from Grandma - December 25, 1944”.

пескоструй Киев, - компания Санд.


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