Reviews for This Means War!

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #1
Wittlinger latches on to a poignant metaphor for war in this lively and readable tale set against the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Fifth-grader Juliet lives near a growing military base, which has brought in an influx of new kids, including the rowdy Patsy. It's a good thing, too, because Juliet's longtime pal Lowell has abandoned her to hang out with boys, including the overgrown bully, Bruce. This division turns into an all-out battle of the sexes when Bruce devises a nine-day competition that tests the strength and bravery of girls versus boys. These increasingly dangerous tests (entering a dog pen, shoplifting) bring most of the children closer together, though for Patsy and Bruce, they only escalate the conflict. It's a clever concept that keeps the proceedings fun even as the darker drama of potential world collapse provides a weighty element; young readers will be shocked to learn of Juliet's daily prayers, including "Dear God, please don't let the world end today." A warm way to introduce the cold war. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
For Juliet, the Cuban Missile Crisis coincides with turbulence in her fifth-grade relationships. While her former best friend ignores her, a new friend's brash fearlessness can be annoying and even scary. Wittlinger conveys a sober knowingness that deepens the seemingly bland innocence of 1960s girlhood. Her prose has the same bracing good sense and down-to-earth humor of her main character. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3
For Juliet, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 coincides with turbulence in her fifth-grade friendships. Her former best friend, Lowell, ignores her and hangs out with boys new to the Air Force base in their small Illinois town. A new friend, Patsy, is fun, but her brash fearlessness in matters both social and athletic can be annoying and even scary. When the schoolyard thug suggests a series of boys-against-girls challenges, Patsy is adamant that the girls win. But the tasks become increasingly dangerous even as the missile crisis looms larger, and by the subdued aftermath, Juliet has learned something of the true nature of bravery, fear, and friendship. This is a bit of a period piece, with its allusions to The Jetsons, TV dinners, and Archie comics. But Wittlinger conveys a sober knowingness that shadows and deepens the seemingly bland innocence of 1960s girlhood ("'I wanted to watch Mister Ed with Mom,' [Juliet] said, and then the tears began to trickle down her cheeks. It suddenly seemed as if President Kennedy and the Russians and the newscasters had all stolen something precious from her that she could never get back"), and her prose has the same bracing good sense and down-to-earth humor of her main character. A fine addition to the growing shelf of novels set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, including The Fire-Eaters (rev. 5/04) by David Almond and Rex Zero and the End of the World (rev. 3/07) by Tim Wynne-Jones, as well as Countdown, reviewed above. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #2
It's the fall of 1962. With Soviet missiles in Cuba, a war with Russia seems imminent. Amid community-wide fears of annihilation, Juliet Klostermeyer is experiencing her own personal problem. Her longtime best friend Lowell has decided it is uncool to be friends with a girl. Friendless for the first time, Julia meets Patsy, a spunky Air Force brat new to town. Patsy's father is a mechanic on the nearby base. When Patsy learns of Lowell's transgression and his new friends' attitude that girls are inferior, she suggests a series of tests to prove the boys wrong. As the standoff between Kennedy and Khrushchev intensifies, so does the war between the sexes. When their final test provokes a near-tragedy, both sides come to realize what is really important. The characters are solid and believable, while the dialogue is fresh, poignant and funny. The children's fear about the end of the world is realistically portrayed, yet Wittlinger never lets it overshadow the good-humored story of friendship. Will appeal to fans of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's The Boys Start the War (1993) and The Girls Get Even (1994). (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 March #3

Fifth-grader Juliet cannot grasp why Lowell doesn't want to be her friend anymore, so when Patsy moves into her neighborhood, she happily befriends the loud, opinionated girl. Lowell seems relieved ("You have a girl to play with, and I have boys. That's how it's supposed to work.... Isn't it?"), but Juliet still feels hurt. When a neighborhood bully proposes a series of competitions between boys and girls, Juliet joins Patsy's team. Even though the tests are increasingly dangerous, readers might be surprised by the intense final face-off. Wittlinger (Parrotfish) raises many complex gender questions without being heavy-handed: can boys and girls be friends as they get older? Are traditional girl activities like dancing as athletic as stereotypical boy ones like hitting a baseball? Readers will find it easy to root for Juliet, both as she competes and as she sorts out her relationships with sensitive Lowell and the often pushy Patsy. The book's backdrop--an Air Force town during the Cuban Missile Crisis--ratchets up the anxiety and clearly places the children in a critical moment between childhood and the adult world. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 April

Gr 4-6--Lowell has long been 10-year-old Juliet's best friend, but after two Air Force-brat brothers move into their Illinois town, she is persona non grata. She befriends another newcomer, Patsy, whose father also works at the local airfield, and soon the girls and the boys form teams of four bent on challenging one another to prove whether girls are as capable as boys. The plot moves swiftly as Bruce, mean and older, and Patsy, outspoken and competitive, rally their opposing teams into increasingly risky and dangerous tests, including jumping out of a tree and shoplifting. Juliet's parents are occupied with trials of their own. As owners of a local grocery store, they are on edge about the appearance in town of supermarkets. They scare Juliet by arguing at the dinner table about whether President Kennedy will lead the United States into war over the recent Cuban missile crisis. Juliet finally gets their attention after Bruce resorts to arson to beat the girls' team, and she and Lowell brave heavy smoke to save Patsy from a burning barn. The Cold War underlies all, seeping into Juliet's fifth-grade classroom discussions and also into the atmosphere of her friend's underground bomb shelter. These details add realism and substance to an engaging novel that would be a step up for readers of Phyllis R. Naylor's Hartford and Malloy books (Delacorte).--Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT

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