Characterization, description, setting, dialogue. I found this to be a great book. I am having a tough time narrowing down my favorite to defend for the 2008 Mock Newbery and I've still many books to read.
I finished the Peck book last night. Lovely writing. He is constantly sneaking in cliches and making them sound like it was the first time they were used. The story drug a bit at times. The best part is when a very unorthodox teacher is hired to fill a teacher shortage. The Heroes in the title refer to the main character's Father and Brother, each of whom fought in the different World Wars. The father was developed fairly well, but we hardly get to know the brother.
Your right, it really is the boy's story, and the homefront during the war. I would have liked to get a better feel for Bill and even a little more of the father, but a boy that age just need's them to be who he thinks they are. "Just be Dad."
That part, where he doesn't want his dad to cry, just killed me. I felt so badly for the dad. As kids, we really don't want to see our parents in any stage of weakness. I suppose we don't as adults either.
A friend of mine mentioned that Richard Peck books are good, but she always thinks it is the same homey, folksy tone, not something unique or distinguished. I'm still formulating my reaction/response to that. What do you think?
I think a writer is entitled to have his own distinctive tone. Your friend is correct that Peck's books do sound as if they are all coming from the same source, they are. I don't believe that detracts from the individual stories. Within each book, characters come across as unique.