: Book Review – Postcards From a War by Vanita Oelschlager (VanitaBooks, LLC, 2009)

cover17138-mediumVanitaBooks, LLC
Postcards From a War
by Vanita Oelschlager
Children’s Fiction

Finished

Blurb: Postcards is intended for 4-8 year olds, ones who are old enough to understand that a parent in the military may have to go to a dangerous place, but maybe not why. It shows the important intergenerational bonding that families often experience during times of war.
The postcards and letters in the book were received by the author from her father during World War II. Wilfred Bauknight sent home many letters and postcards that included his illustrations while on active duty in the Philippines in 1945-6. Wilfred was an engineer, skilled in draftsmanship. The illustrations he included with his correspondence look like they were “engineered” – a lot of detail!

Review: It is not easy to explain to a child what is war and why his mom, or dad, instead of staying with him, must leave for faraway and dangerous places and fight with the risk of coming home injured or never return, at all.

This beautifully picture book, Postcards From War, tries to do it, with great sensitivity.

It was written – by Vanita Oelschlager (author of A Tale of Two Mommies and A Tale of Two Daddies) and illustrated by Mike Blanc and Col. Wilfrid Bauknight, USAR – with humanitarian purposes: all net profits will go to the Fisher House Foundation dedicated to helping America’s military families.

Like all peace-loving people, I believe that war is something terrible and negative, and I’m sure that there is another way of smoothing out international disputes without propagating so much pain. And this deep conviction is the same of the author, which has a grandfather say to his grandson, I hope that your generation will find an alternative (to war), will find different answers to our own questions.

A passing of the baton, between old and new generations, a hope. This is the underlying message enclosed in the story, and the author uses a simple and empathetic language to transmit it to children (approximately between 4 and 8 years), a language full of human warmth and why not, tenderness.

The love of a grandfather opposed to the loneliness, to the lack, to the feeling of the absence of a modern child, named Matthew, who asked himself why his mom has gone abroad to a war zone.

The calm and quiet voice of his grandfather tells him that his mother is doing what feels right, and that in life you always have to fight for this, even when the price is very high, as you stay away from those you love most, as just a son.

To create a link of continuity, a grandfather shows to his grandson an antique trunk stored in the attic, in which there are a lot of postcards that his father sent him during World War II, when as an engineer he was sent to fight in the Philippines.

Beautiful postcards (digitized by Mike Blanc in sepia tone for the book) that Col. Wilfrid Bauknight drew for his children with sympathetic and funny messages to reassure them that he was fine, that made those six months of absence shorter and less painful.

Today there are emails, computers, internet, and writing to a child from war zones is perhaps even easier (the letters of that time were written on thin paper, which weighing less was less expensive to mail), and so the grandfather suggests to his grandson to collect all them (the old postcards of his father and the Matthew’s mother emails) in a book.

Touching.

Vanita Oelschlager is a wife, mother, grandmother, former teacher, caregiver, author and poet. She is a graduate of Mount Union College, where she is currently a member of the Board of Trustees. She was named “Writer in Residence” for the Literacy Program at The University of Akron in 2007. Her first book, My Grampy Can’t Walk, was widely praised. It’s an uplifting story about the wonderful relationship between her husband Jim, who has multiple sclerosis, and their grandchildren. Vanita has also supported Jim as he built Oak ssociates, ltd. into a highly respected investment management firm.
Mike Blanc is a life-long professional artist. His artwork has illuminated countless publications for both corporate and public interests, worldwide. Mike contributes creative direction and illustration to VanitaBooks. He lives with his wife, Gail, in sunny Doylestown, Ohio. They enjoy their four children, and five grandkids.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to an early digital ARC of this book.

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