Blue Skies Review

Anne Bustard
Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: March 17, 2020
Number of Pages: 224

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Ten-year-old Glory Bea Bennett believes in miracles. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them so far.

Now, Glory Bea wants a miracle of her own—her daddy’s return.

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned from the front in France. She believes Daddy is still out there.

When reports that the Texas boxcar from the Merci Train—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, Glory Bea just knows Daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.


“I loved Blue Skies so much I couldn’t bear for it to end.” –Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

“A heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) delight of a book . . .” –Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore

“A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones.” Kirkus Reviews

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I really commend Bustard’s writing here, Not only are her characters completely charming but her style of writing is too. As someone that completely embraces my inner head voice when reading, a Texan accent is a must for this. I hope everyone that reads this agrees. *Audiobook hint?


Bustard also uses an epistolary style (something I just learned) with local news updates and French definitions. I truly truly loved this. It was a fun addition that moved the pace of the story and involved the reader into learning as well.


Let’s talk story now. Glory Bea is a great character. She is spirited, creative, mischievous, and stubborn. I could keep naming a bunch of other adjectives but I’ll go deeper. Blue Skies, while middle grade reading, is not afraid to dive into deep emotions and dealing with loss. Glory Bea firmly believes her father is coming back and I was so into her character, that I believe it with her. Because miracles can happen right? However, it’s more than that. While she prepares for his homecoming, keeping it all a secret, she’s dealing with changes in her life that are out of her control. She has not had her father for fours years and the family along with her have kept his belongings where they are, never giving up. I was just so moved and heartbroken in the glimpses of the past for them. However, it’s all done so gently in the story. It’s an underlining truth to their life but so much more happens. The pace of the book is relatively quick and with a goal in mind, the Merci Train arriving, life continues to move on.


The character relationships are great. I enjoyed the interactions between Glory Bea and Ben, especially the silly pranks they play on each other. Glory Bea’s relationship with her mother really stands out as well. The mother’s reactions, for instance, took me by surprise. I did feel frustration sometimes with her grandparents and mother’s non-action to talking things out with Glory Bea. She is struggling at times and even acting out but they would leave her to calming down or dealing with it herself, besides a short talk. The longest discussion she does have about her feelings ends up being with someone unexpected. It was definitely an interesting approach but perhaps not fully described since we don’t know everything that happened after the War ended.


Things I loved about Blue Skies:
The artistic and musical vibrancy of the town.
Her Grandpa taking out his pocket watch to ensure they’re on time.
Dr. Pepper floats. (Now I want one!)
The be-a-utiful cover.
A ten-year old trying to be a matchmaker.
This historical fiction still being so relevant today.
Glory Bea giving her friend a perm without reading the instructions. (Something I would definitely do.)
The use of the song Blue Skies, which has also been a favorite of mine and holds great memories.
Again, I must mention the amazing writing of this story. The tone is somewhat nostalgic but lighthearted. There are bits of comedy that shine and keep you grinning. I couldn’t put the book down…except for one moment to grab a tissue. A fantastic read that will leave you feeling lighter in spirit than before.
Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, and an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novel, Anywhere But Paradise, as well as two picture books, RAD! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year. Hawaii-born, she divides her time between Texas and Canada.





Each receive a signed copy of Blue Skies 
March 17-March 27, 2020


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