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  • Willow Run
  • Written by Patricia Reilly Giff
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  • Written by Patricia Reilly Giff
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Willow Run

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Written by Patricia Reilly GiffAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Patricia Reilly Giff



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On Sale: December 24, 2008
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 978-0-307-54937-2
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: September 13, 2005
ISBN: 978-0-307-28081-7
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Meggie Dillon's life has been turned upside down by World War II. Meggie's father has announced that they must help the war effort and
move to Willow Run, Michigan, where he'll work nights in a factory building important war planes that will help fight the enemy in Europe. Willow Run will be the greatest adventure ever, Meggie thinks. There she meets Patches and Harlan, other kids like her from far-off places whose parents have come here to do their part in the war. And there she faces questions about courage, and what it takes to go into battle, like Eddie, and to keep hope alive on the home front.

Excerpt

Chapter One


The wheels made a horrible sound; no wonder. The wagon belonged to Joey Kind down the block, who
hadn't used it in years; the whole thing was a rusted mess. And the nerve of Joey to say, "You be careful,
Meggie Dillon. Don't ruin it."

Too bad, I wanted to tell him, keep your old wagon. But I had to borrow it. It was all for the war effort.
And right now rattling along in the center of the wagon was Big Bertha, Mom's iron statue that had a clock
in her stomach. She'd been rusting away in the attic forever, just like Joey's wagon.

Big Bertha was going to war. Mr. North at the junkyard would pay me a quarter and Bertha would be
melted down into bullets. Poor Bertha.

It was almost dark so I began to hurry. I chugged past Grandpa's house but I knew he wasn't there. He
was at my house waiting for Dad to get home from work. Dad had news, that was all Mom would tell us,
and we'd hear it over a late supper of salad greens and flounder in tomato sauce: greens we'd grown in
Grandpa's garden, and flounder Grandpa and I had caught this morning. Poor flounder. Poor me for
having to eat it with every single one of its skinny bones getting caught in my teeth.

Someone was moving along the side of Grandpa's house. My mouth went dry. Here we were in the middle
of a war. Suppose it was a spy?

As quietly as I could considering the squeak of the wheels, I shoved the wagon into a pile of bushes and
tiptoed up the driveway. I went slowly, ready to tear back to the street and across the lawn to one of
Grandpa's neighbors before the spy shot me.

A pair of shadows. I clapped my hand to my mouth so I wouldn't make a sound. Then I realized I knew
them both. One was Joey Kind's older brother, Mikey, and the other was a kid I had seen down at the
beach flexing his muscles as if he were Charles Atlas, the weight lifter. His name was Tommy or Donny or .
. . I wasn't sure, but I remembered my friend Lily Mollahan nudging me, asking, "Did you ever see such an
idiot in your life?"

He was not only an idiot, he was big. They were both big, sixteen or seventeen, and tough, and I
shivered thinking what would happen if they caught me following them.

But what were they doing? They had an open can of red paint and a couple of brushes, and they began
to dab something on Grandpa's kitchen window.

"Hey!" I yelled, without stopping to think.

They spun around. Mikey looked embarrassed, but the muscle guy kept going with the brush. It looked as
if he were painting a spider . . . but then I saw. He was painting a swastika, the Nazi sign, on the glass
pane.

"That's what we do to Nazis around here," he said.

"He's not a Nazi!" I could feel the anger in my chest, a pain so sharp it was almost hard to breathe. "He's
American," I managed.

"Sounds German to me." The muscle guy was grinning. And then he was imitating Grandpa, mixing up his
fs and his vs, sounding the way the Nazis did in the movies . . .

. . . sounding like Grandpa.

I had a quick picture of Grandpa in my mind, Grandpa sitting on a bench down at the canal, his head back,
that awful red hat on his head, his face sunburned, singing "Mairzy Doats" with a German accent.

"Get out of here, both of you!" I yelled, almost forgetting it would be dark in about two minutes and I was
alone with them back there.

"You're lucky," Muscle Man said. "If this were anywhere else but Rockaway, they'd probably put him in jail.
He's got to be a spy."

I picked up a stone, ready to throw it, but Mikey took a step toward me. "You know what, Meggie? I think
you want the Nazis to win the war. You and your Nazi grandfather."

My arm went down to my side. "That's not true. You know that's--"

"Anywhere else, something would happen to him. Worse than jail," Mikey said. "Worse than anything. And
to you, too."

Why was he saying this? Maybe because I'd told the lifeguard at the beach that he was out too far.

But maybe not. He'd always been mean.

Or maybe that was what people really thought, that Grandpa was a spy, that I . . .

Somewhere down the block I heard a door slam. The two of them slipped past me along the side of the
house. When they were halfway down the driveway I plunked the stone after them, hitting the pail of
paint.

"Crummy aim," Muscle Man said, and Mikey called, "Heil Hitler."

"Watch out, next time--" and then I broke off because it looked as if they were going to come back after
me.

I darted around back, but now I heard them marching up the street yelling, "Heil, heil," with that same
accent.

I went up to Grandpa's window and put my finger on the painted swastika. It was thick and still shiny
wet, and I could feel that my cheeks were wet, too.

Grandpa was the biggest pest in the whole world, calling me Margaret every two minutes instead of
Meggie, whispering during movies so I couldn't even hear what was going on, saying bah whenever he
didn't agree with me.

So why was I crying?


From the Hardcover edition.
Patricia Reilly Giff

About Patricia Reilly Giff

Patricia Reilly Giff - Willow Run
“I want to see children curled up with books, finding an awareness of themselves as they discover other people’s thoughts. I want them to make the connection that books are people’s stories, that writing is talking on paper, and I want them to write their own stories. I’d like my books to provide that connection for them.”—Patricia Reilly Giff

Patricia Reilly Giff has recieved the Newbery Honor for Pictures of Hollis Woods and Lily’s Crossing, which is also a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book. Nory Ryan’s Song was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Notable Book.



A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

What could be more wonderful than to write stories . . .

I spent my childhood reading in bed at night and early in the morning, and on long summer days under the tree in our yard. What could be more wonderful, I always thought, than to write stories that could make a reader fall in love with a character and laugh or cry over her adventures?

When did I start? Not soon enough! I was married and had three children. A snowy day and a husband who built a writing room from two skinny closets made me begin at last.

I agonized for weeks about what I would write, about that elusive protagonist that would make my readers want to spend hours of their lives following her imaginary life.

In my closet, I began to see Casey Valentine and Tracy Matson; Grace O’Malley came alive for me. And then the Kids of the Polk Street School danced into my head: Emily who reminded me of my daughter Alice, Beast who was very much like a boy I met in New Jersey, and Ms. Rooney—a teacher like myself who had good days and bad days, but who certainly loved her students. And, of course, there was the school amazingly like the one where I spent my days teaching.

I wanted to show readers that everyone has problems, that we’re not alone . . .

During the last several years I’ve been writing more serious books . . . books that remind me of my own childhood, my own feelings. I wrote Lily’ s Crossing because I remembered how terrified I was during the Second World War and All the Way Home because the specter of polio loomed over us each summer. I wanted to show readers that everyone has problems, that we’re not alone.

I wrote Nory Ryan’ s Song because my great-grandparents had lived through the Great Hunger of Ireland and I wanted to know more about it, more than the stories I had heard from family and from my distant cousins in Ireland. I learned as much as I could by going back to Ireland year after year; I wanted to put it all down on paper for my children and my grandchildren.

And then there was Pictures of Hollis Woods. I wrote that for my mother, and for me. Everything in the book has to do with both of us: the names of people my mother cared for—Beatrice, her best friend growing up; Henry, her cousin; Josie Cahill, her favorite aunt—and the house on the East Branch of the Delaware River that we both loved. Hollis was a foster child similar to many of the children I had worked with during my teaching years.

To tell children . . . there’ s always hope

My book Maggie’s Door is the story of Nory Ryan and Sean Mallon as they leave Ireland to take the long and terrible trip to America on one of the “coffin ships” during those famine years. I wrote it to remind readers of how hard immigrants, both past and present, struggle to make new lives for themselves. I wrote it to tell children that no matter how hard our lives are, there’s always a chance for a new start. There’s always hope.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“I always start each day by writing. That’s like breathing to me,” says Patricia Reilly Giff. In fact, this bestselling author admits: “I wanted to write from the first time I picked up a book and read. I thought it must be the most marvelous thing to make people dance across the pages.”

Reading and writing have always been an important part of Patricia Reilly Giff’s life. As a child, her favorite books included Little Women, The Secret Garden, the Black Stallion books, the Sue Barton books, and the Nancy Drew series. Giff loved reading so much that while growing up, her sister had to grab books out of her hands to get Giff to pay attention to her; later, Giff’s three children often found themselves doing the same thing. As a reading teacher for 20 years, the educational consultant for Dell Yearling and Young Yearling books, an adviser and instructor to aspiring writers, and the author of more than 60 books for children, Patricia Reilly Giff has spent her entire life surrounded by books.

After earning a B.A. degree from Marymount College, Giff took the advice of the school’s dean and decided to become a teacher. She admits, “I loved teaching. It was my world. I only left because I was overwhelmed with three careers—teaching, writing, and my family.”

During the 20 years of her teaching career, she earned an M.A. from St. John’s University, and a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. Then one morning, Giff told her husband Jim, “I’m going to write a book. I’ve always wanted to write and now I shall.” Jim worked quickly to combine two adjacent closets in their apartment into one cramped workspace and, as Giff jokes, she “began [her] career in a closet.”

Giff explains, “I want the children to bubble up with laughter, or to cry over my books. I want to picture them under a cherry tree or at the library with my book in their hands. But more, I want to see them reading in the classroom. I want to see children in solitude at their desks, reading, absorbing, lost in a book.”

Giff tries to write books “that say ordinary people are special.” She says, “All of my books are based in some way on my personal experiences, or the experiences of members of my family, or the stories kids would tell me in school.” Therefore, when she runs out of ideas for her books, Giff says, “I take a walk and look around. Maybe I spend some time in a classroom and watch the kids for a while. Sometimes I lie on the living room floor and remember my days in second grade or third. If all that doesn’t work, I ask Ali, or Jim, or Bill”—Giff’s children, whose names often appear in her books.

When she’s not writing, Patricia Reilly Giff enjoys reading in the bathtub and going to the movies and eating popcorn. She and her husband reside in Weston, Connecticut. They have three children and five grandchildren. In 1990, Giff combined her two greatest loves—children’s books and her family—and, with her husband and her children, opened The Dinosaur’s Paw, a children’s bookstore named after one of her Kids of the Polk Street School novels. This store is part of Giff’ s quest to bring children and books together. She and her family are trying to “share our love of children’s books and writing and to help others explore the whole world of children’s books.”

Throughout the year, Giff visits schools and libraries around the country and speaks to her readers about her books, and about writing. When discussing her work, Giff claims, “I have no special talent, you know. I never took a writing course before I began to write.” She believes that “anyone who has problems, or worries, anyone who laughs and cries, anyone who feels can write. It’s only talking on paper . . . talking about the things that matter to us.”

Giff’s Newbery Honor–winning novel, Lily’s Crossing, is a vivid portrait of the home front during World War II. Fans of Giff’s Kids of the Polk Street School series who are ready to tackle a more challenging book will love this funny, sad, but reassuring story.

Her book, All the Way Home, tells the touching story of Brick and Mariel, two 11-year-old friends who know firsthand about adversity, and together embark on a journey that brings them personal peace.




PRAISE

LILY’S CROSSING
“Details . . . are woven with great effect into a realistic story of ordinary people who must cope with events beyond their comprehension.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine

“Set during World War II, this tenderly written story tells of the war’s impact on two children, one an American and one a Hungarian refugee. Giff’s well-drawn, believable characters and vivid prose style make this an excellent choice.”—School Library Journal

NORY RYAN’S SONG
“Newbery Honor winner Giff weaves wisps of history into this wrenching tale of an Irish family sundered by the Great Potato Famine. . . . Riveting.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Giff brings the landscape and the cultural particulars of the era vividly to life and creates in Nory a heroine to cheer for. A beautiful, heart-warming novel that makes a devastating event understandable.” —Starred, Booklist

THE VALENTINE STAR
The Kids of the Polk Street School #6

“Humor and trials are portrayed through realistic characters and situations and natural dialogue.”—School Library Journal

SAY “CHEESE”
The Kids of the Polk Street School #10

“An affectionate picture of lower elementary students making their way through the ups and downs of classroom life.”—Booklist

LOOK OUT, WASHINGTON, D.C.!
A Polk Street Special #6

“An easy-to-read chapter book for fans of the series, as well as for those planning a visit.”—School Library Journal

SHARK IN SCHOOL
“A solid book that accurately depicts many of the heartaches of the first days at a new school.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise

Praise

“Tough and tender, this [book] is an excellent addition to World War II shelves.”--Booklist, starred



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