Reviews for Operation Yes

Booklist Reviews 2009 September #2
*Starred Review* Take one class of seemingly ordinary sixth-graders in a rundown school just outside a North Carolina military base, add a new teacher with a love for both improvisational theater and a big brother stationed in Afghanistan, then truck in a shy new student whose single mom has just been dispatched to Iraq. The result is the most buoyant example of ensemble work since E. L. Konigsburg's The View from Saturday (1996) and the best of Gregory Maguire's Hamlet Chronicles. Bringing Second City techniques to classroom instruction, Miss Loupe wins over her initially reluctant students so thoroughly that when devastating news comes that her brother has gone missing, the young folk band together in an effort to give something back--not just to Miss Loupe, but to all who are or have loved ones in the armed forces. The result? A triumphant performance that puts on display not only a diverse array of individual talents, but no fewer than 100,000 little plastic soldiers. Flicking among points of view with increasing speed, Holmes tracks the blossoming of Bo Whaley, an often-in-trouble kinetic learner who takes to improv like a duck to water; his just-arrived cousin Gari (who will without doubt grow up to be a professional campaign manager); and a supporting cast of gently caricatured classmates, parents, and faculty. Though only a small part is actually written as a script, the entire tale is purest stagecraft: quick, funny, sad, full of heart, and irresistibly absorbing. For another modern-day homefront story, see the starred review of Julia Keller's Back Home. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #6
One of sixth-grade teacher Miss Loupe's favorite quotes is "Everyone you know is fighting a great battle." She should know. Though she hails from a gung-ho Air Force family, she dropped out of the Academy -- and her father hasn't spoken to her since. Instead, she earned a degree in drama and teaching, and now she's parlaying her college improv skills into her first teaching job -- at the same military base school she attended. The war in the Middle East is very real to Miss Loupe and her students. Miss Loupe's brother Marc is serving in Afghanistan; narrator Bo fears that his base commander father will be deployed to Afghanistan; and Gari is living with her cousin Bo while her Army nurse mother is in Iraq. When Miss Loupe's brother goes missing, her sunny, adage-for-any-situation disposition is abruptly replaced with depression and worry. Using some of their learned improv exercises and inspired by their teacher's lessons, the students decide to help injured soldiers...and Miss Loupe. Armed with nothing more than their wits, their desire to do something, and a lot of plastic army men, Bo and Gari and their classmates come up with a plan to help everyone face the challenges of war. The classroom is often a place of lessons, but Holmes tells her story -- infused with details of military life -- with heart and energy, and leaves any didactism at the door. Sixth graders, military brats or not, will identify with this rich cast. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #2
In this lively, often funny novel, an enthusiastic teacher brings improv to restless sixth graders at a rundown school on a North Carolina Air Force base. Her recruits include Bo, son of the base commander, and Bo's troubled cousin Gari, who joins Bo's family under protest when her mom is redeployed to Iraq. Enduring substandard living conditions, frequent moves and abrupt deployments to far-off wars, these military families are mutually supportive, dedicated to service and proud of what they achieve under considerable stress. The kids warm to Miss Loupe, who teaches them to embrace life's possibilities through the arts, but after her brother is reported missing in Afghanistan, she loses her joyful resilience. As Bo and his friends plot a way to help, Gari must choose between joining them and pursuing a plan to bring her Mom home. Pitched to readers in both military and civilian families, this engaging story avoids larger questions of war and peace, focusing instead on how they affect the lives of American kids who deal with the consequences every day. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 August #3

Despite an occasionally disjointed plot and roving points of view, this story of middle-school classmates who come together to honor their teacher and her war-injured brother entertains. Bo Whaley has a tough time living up to the high standards expected of the son of an Air Force base colonel. In Miss Loupe's sixth-grade class, however, Bo not only avoids trouble, but excels (his teacher's unconventional methods include frequent use of improvisational performance). Then Bo's angry and uncooperative cousin, Gari, moves in when her mom is sent to serve as a nurse in Iraq, and Miss Loupe learns that her brother has been seriously injured in Afghanistan. Soon, Gari, Bo and the rest of Room 208 are hatching a plan to help Miss Loupe, her brother and their dilapidated school on the North Carolina base. Holmes's (Letters from Rapunzel) story, told in third-person, bounces around some in its focus, alighting on different characters' thoughts at various moments. Still, Miss Loupe is the kind of teacher every kid dreams about, and the "all for one, one for all" mentality that comes through as the students band together is inspiring. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 November

Gr 4-7--Bo Whaley's sixth-grade teacher, Miss Loupe, starts the school year by taping off part of the floor to create a space for the students to practice improv, and this unconventional beginning will prove more significant than anyone could predict. The story is set on an Air Force base, and Holmes weaves the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into her characters' lives: Bo's cousin Gari is separated from her mother when she is called back into duty; Bo's father is facing possible deployment; and Miss Loupe's brother is seriously injured in combat. Chief among a cluster of story lines is the students' effort to raise money to assist wounded soldiers via the creativity and compassion inspired by their teacher. While that all sounds poignant, Holmes's words are not as powerful as her themes. She jarringly alters her style several times, and there is some contrived description and dialogue. Though it has lofty goals, the novel never gains enough altitude to truly take flight.--Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR

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