Friday, May 27, 2016

"John Bloom and the Victory Garden: Digging In" by Leigh Shearin

John Bloom and the Victory Garden:
Digging In
(John Bloom Book 2)
by Leigh Shearin

John Bloom and the Victory Garden: Digging In is the second in Leigh Shearin's John Bloom series for children ages 9 and up. Also available: John Bloom and the Victory Garden (read my blog post).

John Bloom and the Victory Garden: Digging In is currently on tour with BeachBoundBooks. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

The fun continues in Appleside, New Jersey, as John Bloom and his pals live, laugh, and watch the incredible events of late 1942 as they unfold across the world. The attack on Pearl Harbor has brought America into the global war, and everyone's involved - even children! Join them as they do what they can to help with the war effort, even from a small, rural, American town.

John was lying quietly in the dim room, his eyes closed. The left side of his face was badly misshapen; the swelling and blotchy colored skin ran from the bridge of his nose all the way to his ear and down to the edge of his jaw.
Mr. Hutchins set the box down gently on the end of the bed and waited for John’s eyes to open.
And waited.
Mr. Hutchins rolled the newspaper into a tube. Grinning like a hyena, the old man began lightly tapping the rolled-up newspaper on the quilt over John’s right foot.
John’s good eye popped open. The left one remained tightly shut with the swelling.
“Heehee, boy, I got ya!”
“Hiya, Mr. Hutchins. What are you doing here so early?” John struggled to be polite, but the pain was only partly dulled by the pain medication, which was making him so drowsy he could hardly keep his one good eye open.
“Early? Half the day is gone already! Aren’t you ready to get up?”
“No sir, my mom said I had to stay in bed until the doc comes and gives the okay. Except to use the privy, that is – and I’ve got to have help to do that, I’m so shaky and dizzy.”
“Well you’ll be on the mend soon. Look here at what I got!” Samuel unfurled the newspaper with flourish.
“A newspaper? What’s so special about a newspaper?”
“Hah! It’s not the newspaper, it’s what’s in the newspaper!”
“What? Has something bad happened? John was alarmed. He had slept a lot since he had been hurt and he felt like he was behind on the news.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I enjoyed reading this book. The author, Leigh Shearin, took me to a time that I had only heard about, but now I could live it through young John Bloom and the interesting characters of Appleside, NJ. Since this is a historical novel, it can be enjoyed by middle grade readers right through to adults!" ~ Christina Morley, Amanda's Books and More
"This book is a fun and very interesting read. There is plenty of history facts in the story and I found myself wanting to look up more about some of the things that were mentioned. [...] The book is the second in a series. I believe that if you wanted you could read this without having to read the first book. While reading you will get some of the backstory from the first book. However, I did read the first book and highly recommend reading both. Both books are fun and have you wanting to read more. I look forward to more adventures with John Bloom and his friends." ~ Where Connor and JT Go
"This historical fiction is set during World War II and filled with genuine characters. I really enjoyed reading this story and learning a little bit of history." ~ Kay Lalone
Please note that the majority of the reviews on Amazon are actually for the first book, John Bloom and the Victory Garden.

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The story starts a bit abruptly, but I wasn't aware until after I read the book that this is the second in a series. While it can be read as a standalone, you are probably better off starting with the first book.
John Bloom and his friends, Joe and Chewie, are three ten-year-old boys living in the small town of Appleside, New Jersey, in 1942. They are the founding members of The American Boys Club (the ABCs), and their mission is to help in the war effort. In this story, the boys establish a Victory Garden with the help of their old neighbor, Mr Hutchins. The story includes information about World War II in a manner easily accessible to children. Topics mentioned include: flying aces, Victory Gardens, internment camps, the war in the Pacific, Japanese prison camps, Polish concentration camps, the Battle of Midway, soldiers' families displaying flags in windows, blackouts, and Pearl Harbor.
The book also imparts knowledge of community farming and the lifestyle of the time: rationing, bartering with neighbors for food items (e.g., exchanging milk for eggs), listening to the radio, scrap drives (first attempts at recycling), making jams and butter, milking cows, baking bread, reading newspapers to get information (rather than using the Internet), composting, and sharing the fruits of harvest.
All of these elements are woven into the story, and we follow the growth and development of the garden and the vegetables throughout the course of the war. The story is illustrated with maps, photographs, newspaper headlines, and flyers, to provide an interactive feel. It even includes a selection of recipes using harvested vegetables and farm produce.
There are a few editing errors, but overall this is a fun and educational book, with something for the adults as well.

About the Author
Leigh Shearin is a farmer, writer, photographer, baker, and lifetime dreamer.
Leigh earned a B.A. degree in Studio Art at Maryville College and worked as a graphic artist before earning an ASS degree in Culinary Art. She has worked as a chef, baker and culinary arts instructor. Most recently, she and her husband bought rural land and are developing Winter'Rest, a small farm in central New York. Through all this, Leigh wrote stories and poems … some published; some tucked away.
She is happiest living off the land and is an ardent supporter of local and sustainable farms, farmers and practices. Seasonal fresh produce from Winter'Rest Farm is even on the menus of some Farm-to-Fork restaurants in the Central New York. Leigh is also an accomplished photographer, working in Fine Art Photography from age 20, under the name M. Leigh Emery.
Leigh writes fiction stories for middle-grade readers. Along with illustrator Kate Shearin, Leigh spins tales of self-sufficiency and independence, along with gentle agriculture education. Since historical fiction is also a lifetime interest, Leigh uses true stories of the past to bring inspiration and joy to modern-day children.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.