Not a current one, of course. What current ones I have left are all longer than I feel up to tackling this summer. No, I just finished The Matchlock Gun, winner of the medal for 1942 (that’s the year my dad was born!). I have to say, it was a lovely little story–simple in the way many books about children were during the first half of the 20th century, but poignant in its simplicity. It takes place during the French and Indian War–a name, I learned tonight, used almost exclusively by Americans–in upstate New York. Edward’s father is gone overnight on military service, leaving his mother to wonder if the Indians will come; when they do, she and Edward together must defend their home and protect Trudy, the youngest member of the family. The characters are simply drawn, the writing spare, and the tension utterly convincing. (I may or may not have stayed up past midnight to find out what happened when the Indians came.)
Better yet, that simplicity and tension makes it a good story for young elementary school boys who want adventure. At sixty-two pages, including illustrations, The Matchlock Gun is doable for earlier readers and ought to appeal to kids who want to be heroes. AND it’s only $2.98 on Amazon!
In the interest of full disclosure, Trudy is a poorly drawn character; she’s supposedly six but is generally portrayed with the actions and temperament of a three-year-old. It doesn’t affect the story much, however, and I found myself not particularly caring.