Review & Giveaway: Blue Skies by Anne Bustard


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

┃  Amazon  ┃  BookPeople  ┃  IndieBound ┃



Acting out of character, I had read the synopsis of Blue Skies by Anne Bustard before deciding to read the book. The bit about a boxcar caught my eye because there are a few stories that I have read involving boxcars that I hold very dear in my heart. There were no orphans living or being transported to a new life in this boxcar, but I think that it served as a representation of hope much like those other stories.

The cover of Blue Skies is lovely to look at. The blue is the exact shade of what you think of on a perfect day, with fluffy white clouds and white birds flying across the cover. A young girl in a pretty dress looks hopeful as she faces the same direction that the birds are flying to with eyes closed and hands clasped in front of her. Now that I have read the book, the choice of cover has the same flavor of those used for the Anne of Green Gables series. They are beautiful covers but they don’t hint at the firecracker of a girl contained within their pages.

Glory Bea Bennett takes her place among my favorite heroines with big hearts and spirit: Laura Ingalls, Anne Shirley, Jo March, etc. Much like Jo, Glory Bea is “hopelessly flawed,” but that’s what makes you love her even more. She is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves to the point that she might miss the cues that something other than the plans she has for them might be best in the end. Aren’t we all like that at one time or another? Ten-year-old and adult readers alike can use a reminder here or there that we can help the people we love up to a point, and then we are only there to support them in the end.

Bustard has created a wonderful community around such a vibrant character. I have always had a soft spot for the small town where everyone not only knows your name but they know all about your business. I was tickled by the moments when eavesdroppers would get caught listening in on the party line. And with all the cynicism in our world today, it was relaxing to read a story where the conflict arises from inner turmoil rather than a place of evil intentions.

To be completely honest, girls will probably gravitate to this book much like they do to Little House, Green Gables, and Little Women, but boys would also get something out of it if they’re willing to try. While the male characters are secondary, they are strong and not afraid of strong women. I could see this book being used in the classroom when discussing the aftermath of war or perhaps as an introduction to the French language. I wish I had read this book before my trip to Austin so that I could have seen the real life inspiration in person. I have put that on my list of things to do, along with reading other books by Anne Bustard.

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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2 responses to “Review & Giveaway: Blue Skies by Anne Bustard

  1. Missus Gonzo!
    I am so touched by your lovely review! Thank you, merci beaucoup!
    With deepest gratitude,
    Anne Bustard

  2. Great review — and based on your character comparisons, this sounds like a must read.

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