Like its inspiration, Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw, Postcards from Pismo is a series of letters from a young boy to an adult he admires. The boy’s name is Felix Maldonado, and his hero is Marcus Greene, an Army lieutenant serving in Afghanistan. The two first become pen pals through a class project, but their correspondence extends far beyond the original assignment and a warm friendship forms between them. This friendship becomes especially valuable to Felix when his older brother, Quin, enlists in the military himself.
This timely book explores a lot of the important questions kids have about the military and going to war within very safe and comfortable boundaries. Felix is inquisitive and thoughtful, and his sincere worries, fears, and misconceptions are endearing. His straightforward tone and unapologetic curiosity sometimes come across as too bold or blunt, but I think it’s a style kids relate to and appreciate. Felix has the same ideas and thoughts as I’m sure many ten-year-old boys have, and his genuine interest in finding answers to his questions makes it easy to forgive his occasional overstepping of boundaries.
Readers who enjoyed Michael Scotto's first novel, Latasha and the Little Red Tornado, will find a similar reading experience in Postcards from Pismo. Though the subject matter is different, and the narrators are of different genders, there is a wholesome, upbeat quality to both books that suggests a strong moral compass and a focus on the positive. Kids interested in activism will especially like Felix, who is always thinking of ways to give back to the soldiers who protect his country.
When I was a kid, I read The War Began at Supper: Letters to Miss Loria by Patricia Reilly Giff, wherein students exchanged letters with their former student teacher discussing all their fears about the first Gulf War. I remember being very curious, and this book gave me a way to explore the issues that confused or intrigued me in an honest and safe way. Postcards from Pismo does the same thing for kids who are trying to understand our current global situation, and will undoubtedly appeal to military families and non-military families alike.
Watch the author’s official trailer of Postcards from Pismo below, and visit him online at michaelascotto.com.
For more recommended epistolary novels, click here.
I received an ARC of Postcards from Pismo from the author.