On the Wings of Heroes



Funny, poignant life on home front during WWII.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Families are strong and loving.


An old lady likes to tell stories about gruesome injuries, including a hand cut off in a farm machine; a boy who sleds under a harvester; another who bites off the tip of his tongue. A man is hit in the head with a wrench, resulting in a concussion and stitches. A girl's hand is caught in a rattrap, chickens are slaughtered.

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Candy, bicycle, drink brands mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is some violence: A father is knocked out with a wrench, a girl's hand is caught in a rattrap, and an old lady likes to tell tales of gruesome injuries.

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What's the story?

Davy's life is pretty normal -- normal, that is, for small town middle America around 1940. There are the evening games of tag involving everyone on the street, Halloween tricks, eccentric neighbors, hopes for a new bike, times helping out at his dad's gas station, and tall tales told by the old lady down the block.

Then WWII intervenes, and Davy's older brother, Bill, joins the Air Force to be a bomber pilot. Now life includes air raid drills, scrap drives, ration cards, postcards from Bill overseas, and stars in the windows of servicemen's families. But even with all that, the war seems pretty far away -- until Bill's plane is shot down and he is missing in action.

Is it any good?


This slice of Americana has all the elements that Richard Peck does better than anyone else. Start with a historical setting that opens up a new world to young readers, and tell the story in the voice of someone who lived it. Add intact families with strong, loving parents and wise, cantankerous elders, infuse it with incisive wit and humor, and spread it all out in some of the sharpest prose available in print today.

This is Mark Twain crossed with Dylan Thomas, and Peck is one of very few authors who could bear that comparison. This delightful little book is not for kids who need lots of action and adventure to keep them reading. But for those who can enjoy a warm and witty portrait of a time and place long gone but not yet forgotten, it's a true gem. And it might just send young readers scurrying for their own grandparents to hear more stories about their childhoods.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the differences between life then and now. What aspects of Davy's life sound similar to your own? Which are completely different? Does it sound like it was fun to grow up then? Is it more fun now? What else have you seen and read about WWII?

Book details

Author:Richard Peck
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:February 1, 2007
Number of pages:148
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old November 28, 2011

The Big Best Book

This book, ON THE WINGS OF HEROES is really exciting and also maybe sad because, to me it was. It has good details on the main plot and settings and ect... But the most important thing about this book is, Family! so i reccomend this book for ages 9-13.


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