All Those Secrets of the World

 

This is based on something that actually happened when my father came home wounded from World War II. My mother, baby brother, and I lived with her parents for two and a half years (see also the book MIZ BERLIN WALKS and the short story "The Long Closet.") When my father returned from London where he’d been stationed, my brother Stevie did not recognize him. Some of the facts of the actual history are altered. As my cousin Michael wrote to me "I don’t exactly remember things that way." Which is why he is the scientist and I am the writer. Leslie Baker truly captures the spirit of the story and the look of the times. I lent her some family photos. But actually, she used her own family for the characters. As she said in a recent review of a show of her artwork, "The secret of that book is that I used images of both my parents. I think of my mother as a 20-year-old nurse, going across the Atlantic in a Liberty Ship. She met my father, a hospital administrator in the Army, putting patients under the hospital beds during an air raid." The model for young Janie (actually me!) is Emma, Leslie’s daughter, the granddaughter her parents never lived to see. She also put cousins, aunts, and uncles long dead in the crowd scenes.

A Jr. Library Guild book and 1992 Reading Rainbow selection. An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists. Selected as a 1991 Notable Children’s Trade Book in Social Studies. Am IRA Tacher’s Choice. AND the cover of the Little Brown catalog!

What reviewers have said:

  • "A gentle story of the growth of a little girl while her father is away at war. Delicate watercolors enhance the affectionate story." — Horn Book
  • *"A gracefully cadenced text with telling echoes of ideas and images. A poignant, beautifully wrought work." — Kirkus (starred/pointer review)
  • "This timely, nostalgic story is told with simple grace, and Janie’s thoughts and experiences are believably childlike. Baker’s (The Third-Story Cat ) watercolors are poignant, evocative and contain just the right amount of sentimentality." — Publishers Weekly
  • "This story is a warm, touching family story enriched by Baker’s soft, dream-like paintings. She excels at depicting children and the seashore." — Children’s Literature
  • "Yolen once again demonstrates her unique ability to use a small incident to reveal a profound idea. … The cover of the book, reminiscent of the work of Jessie Wilcox Smith, is full of light and sweetness. The children’s stances throughout capture the innocence and wonder of childhood. Baker’s watercolors are a particularly effective medium whether depicting landscapes or family scenes to capture the tender mood of this memorable vignette. An affecting piece without an extraneous word and one that is particularly timely today." — School Library Journal
  • "Books derived from their authors’ own experience are often particularly compelling. … From father’s departure by ship from the United States to the war in Europe … to the tender family reunion two years later, this book is as close to perfection as one could want." — Quill & Quire
  • "Yolen’s text is poetic. . .and finds a quiet match in Baker’s watercolors."–Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
  • "Poignant, evocative. This imely, nostalgic story is told with simple grace."–PW
  • "Adults who remember the time will feel the truth of the experience; so will today’s kids who have come to know about parting and reunion in wartime."–Booklist
  • "Delicate, nostalgic watercolors re-create a memorable period in the nation’s history and reinforce the sensitive story."–Horn Book

Out of print.


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