War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

Author:Karen Cushman [Cushman, Karen]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: 2021-04-06T00:00:00+00:00

It was sunny and warm for December, seventy-six degrees a few minutes before noon. I’d worn my bathing suit all day but was not out in the water. Instead I was trapped inside doing homework. Edna had gone to the movies but I couldn’t go with her. Bah, homework.

I was spread out on the bed trying to determine the area and circumference of given shapes. I hated area and circumference. Who cared? Mama was in the kitchen, listening to some old people’s music and writing jingles, and Pop and Lily and Pete had gone for burgers. Mama and Pop were determined to keep us cheery and untroubled. We were going to eat lunch outside, splash in the water, skip stones, and pretend we weren’t worried about war and the world. And tonight we were going to join the Fribbles for a bonfire and a sing-along. The Fribbles! For cryin’ out loud, could this day get any worse? At least Rosie would be there, so we could—

“Millie!” a voice screamed from the other room.

My mother? Raising her voice?


Good gravy. Don’t flip your wig, Mama.

Mama pushed the bedroom door open and clutched my arm. “Run and find your father and the children. Now, Millie! Now!”

“What for? Why me? I have homework.” I was getting a good whine going when Mama grabbed my shoulder and shook.

“The radio,” Mama said. “The Japanese.” She was breathing heavily. “Bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor. In Hawaii. Sneak attack. Get your father now!”

I went. All I knew of Hawaii was pineapples and grass skirts, but it’s part of the United States and close to home, not far away like Germany and France. Did Japanese bombs mean war really was coming here to Mission Beach? My throat was dry and my heart flopped like a fish as I ran. I met Pop and the kids coming home.

“Bombs,” I said through pants and wheezes. “Hawaii. Bombs.”

Pop handed me the sack of burgers, picked Lily up, and ran.

“What’s happening?” Pete asked.

“The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor,” I told him.

“Who’s Pearl Harbor?” Oh, how I wished I were only five and a half! I grabbed his hand and we ran together.

At home we all gathered by the radio. Even Edna, for the movie was called off after the attack was announced. I huddled on the sofa with Lily and Pete, who were wary and silent, their eyes puzzled, while Mama stood in the doorway, wringing her apron in her hands. Pop sat right in front of the radio and leaned forward, his forearms on his thighs, as though he could actually see what was happening if he got close enough.

He blew his nose with a hoot and muttered over and over, “The dirty so-and-sos.” Tears streamed down his face. I had never seen him cry before, and it frightened me. I chewed on my cuticles until they bled.

Lily climbed onto Pop’s lap and touched a tear running down his face. “Why you crying, Pop?”

“Grown-up stuff, Lily-billy. Nothing for you kids to worry about.


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