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Author: Ruth, Greg
A powerful story of a boy watching for his military parent to come home.
Kirkus Reviews (10/01/14)
School Library Journal (11/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (01/15)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2014 This affecting picture book is simplicity itself. Nuanced drawings drive the action, with only occasional words appearing every other page or so. Lifelike illustrations show a young boy at a busy airport. While he moves through throngs of people, various scenes of military personnel reuniting with their families are portrayed. Tension slowly mounts as he continues his search, “Watching . . . Waiting.” Finally, he catches sight of a familiar figure and runs into the arms of a soldier—his mom. Young readers will identify with the main character’s reactions: his patient wistfulness, his sheepishness over public displays of affection, his growing consternation as his search continues, his final exuberance. This gently reassuring selection will resonate with children who have parents in the military or with anyone who is separated from a family member for any reason. Its simple message lends itself to multiple applications and audiences, extending its potential impact beyond more focused selections, such as Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops (2012) or Gary Metivier’s Until Daddy Comes Home (2014). - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 11/01/2014 PreS-Gr 2—As long as American troops are serving overseas, there will be children waiting to be reunited with them. In Ruth's nearly wordless picture book, readers follow the anxious progress of a young boy in a red T-shirt as he looks through the crowds of returning veterans and their loved ones. Along with him, there's a border collie dashing into its owner's arms, a man tenderly touching the belly of a pregnant woman, tight embraces, and comradely photo shoots. Ruth's skillful depiction of a variety of people simultaneously experiencing joyful reunions culminates in a wildly exuberant "MOM!" as the boy spots the person he's been searching for. Respectful and as handsome as it is useful, this book has a place in most collections.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2015 Who is a stranger to the experience of awaiting the arrival of an absent loved one? The preschooler wonders how long it will be until Dad gets to the daycare center for pick-up; the parent counts down the hours until her teen gets home from prom safe and sound; the nursing home resident watches for his weekly visitor—all sharing the same bright anticipation, tinged with a shadow of anxiety. Separation issues seem to be part and parcel of the human condition, but how much more poignant must they be for children of parents on military deployment? In this nearly wordless picture book, Ruth invites viewers to join a young boy at the airport as he crosses the tarmac for the first sight and first touch of his own returning soldier. The genius of this presentation lies in Ruth’s masterful manipulation of time and perspective. The action transpires in something close to real time; indeed, careful perusal of the pictures and speculation about the boy’s state of mind can bring the pacing into near alignment with the minutes (or could it be mere seconds?) between his opening glance across the velvet rope barrier, his race across the tarmac, and the moment of reunion. Although, technically, viewers watch the boy’s movements, they also concurrently adopt his precise point of view thanks to a clever pictorial strategy. As the boy scans the arrivals and their families, steadily quickening his pace, each pair or group he notices and then promptly dismisses is brought to the foreground in full color, while the rest of the crowd retreats into a roughly sketched gray background. Thus Ruth stages the complete scene while allowing audiences to move freely within it as detached observer and invested participant. We recognize the joy of each reunion, but it never become the boy’s—or our—emotional concern. We haven’t found the right soldier yet. With such emotionally fraught subject matter, it’s imperative to dance along an extremely fine line, avoiding maudlin manipulation while conveying legitimate sentiment, and Ruth carefully crafts his narrative to keep in balance. Not a single word or phrase pushes an emotional agenda (“Waiting”; “Watching”; “Where is . . . ?”); Ruth never ascribes “correct” feelings but allows the audience to attribute or experience their own. He also deftly incorporates touches of humor to relieve the tension: true to young guy perspective, the boy can’t help but cast a sideways glance—accompanied by a summary “Sheesh!”—at a smooching couple. There’s also an inventive touch of misdirection: if the cover art and the opening scene seem to promise a shopworn tale of a boy and his dog, audiences are in for a surprise when the dog promptly takes off, leash flying in its wake, straight into the arms of a camo-clad woman. It’s the boy’s—and our—first disappointment (“Lucky dog”). It’s also now clear that, since the dog belongs to the woman holding his leash, she must not be the boy’s mother. So, who is he with? Who is he expecting? The penultimate spread, a jubilant shout of “MOM!”, solves the mystery. It also may, and therefore should, cause viewers a brief moment of embarrassment if they fell right into the trap of assuming the boy is expecting a father’s return, especially since Ruth had already given a visual nod to soldiers of both genders and families of various configurations. Ruth remarks in a closing note, “No soldier goes to war alone—he or she always brings along their family and friends with them.” Teachers, librarians, and families selecting books that introduce military service to a very young audience will do well to include this tribute to military families, whose profound experiences are often acknowledged only in tragic stories of bereavement or in joyful but fleeting photo ops. (See p. 276 for publication information.) Elizabeth Bush, Reviewer - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.