"Theatre is the art of saying yes." ~ from Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes.
Blue Angels in delta formation, MC Base, Hawai’i, 2007.
"Off we go into the wild blue yonder
Climbing high into the sun . . . "
Yes, yes, yes!!
OPERATION YES by Sara Lewis Holmes
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009), Ages 9-12, 256 pp.
*adjusts goggles and does happy dance in flight suit*
Yes, that Sara — whose first novel, Letters from Rapunzel, impressed me so much back in 2007, that I simply had to write and tell her, even though I’m usually much too shy to contact perfect strangers. That led to me reading her amazing blog, Read*Write*Believe, where she sometimes features her exquisite poetry. *swoon* Such talent! I was so inspired by what she was doing that I summoned up the courage to start my own blog. Since she encouraged and supported me from day one, you can see why I am especially thrilled to be able to celebrate her second middle grade novel right here on alphabet soup.
Can’t. wait. to. read. it.
Operation Yes takes place at a dilapidated school adjoining an Air Force Base in Reform, North Carolina, where an unconventional, first-year teacher named Miss Loupe introduces her sixth grade class to the wonders of improvisational theatre. She has created a taped rectangle on the floor at the front of the classroom, a make-shift stage, because "art needs a frame," and, "art is arranging objects to create beauty." In this taped space, the class discovers what can happen when given the chance to say yes.
Cornelius reprises his role as Private Puck in "A Midsummer Night’s Maneuvers."
One of the students is trouble maker Bo Whaley, who finds it difficult trying to live up to the standards expected of a Colonel/Base Commander’s son. Surprisingly enough, under Miss Loupe’s tutelage Bo is able to avoid trouble and excel at something. Add to the mix Bo’s angry and troubled cousin, Gari, who grudgingly moves in with them after her mother is deployed to Iraq.
Miss Loupe herself is from a military family, and knows all too well what it’s like to constantly have to move, change schools and deal with the loneliness and anxiety of being separated from loved ones. She is able to inspire her students to "embrace life’s possibilities through the arts." But after her brother is reported missing in Afghanistan, even she succumbs to the strain. Working as a team, the students of Room 208 implement the transformational power of YES and devise a plan to help Miss Loupe and improve conditions at their school.
An F-15E Strike Eagle flies over the mountains and high desert of Afghanistan.
(photo source: Seymour Johnson AFB Media Gallery.)
Early readers have been loving Operation Yes. Richie Partington of Library Thing says, "Through Bo and his schoolmates, we get a real sense of what it is to have to change homes and schools every couple of years. Author Sara Lewis Holmes — herself, the wife of an Air Force pilot — does a great job of showing us what this sort of childhood might be like."
Shelf Elf hopes the book will receive a lot of hoopla because, "What this book says about courage, creativity, family ties, war and education is complex and thought-provoking . . . I am sure it will make people think about how it takes courage and integrity to fight for what you believe in, whether you are serving your country or serving your community or family or students."
Kirkus found the book "lively" and "funny," and likes how the focus is not on the "larger questions of war and peace," but what it might be like for kids of American military families who have to deal with the consequences every day. Books for young readers addressing this topic are few and far between — bravo to Sara for helping to meet this need with her uplifting story. This just in: Operation Yes has been named to the Autumn 2009 Kids’ Indie Next List! How cool is that?!
Classic warbirds (F-86, F-4, F-15, A-10), fly in diamond formation just for Sara!
(photo by divemasterking2000.)
Let’s head to the mess hall pronto and slurp up some delicious
jet fuel celebration soup (green army men securing the perimeter). If the spirit moves you, feel free to leave your cockpits and recite some Shakespeare while wing balancing, or engage in some happy aerobatics (tailslides, loops, spins) in Sara’s honor. Embrace all the possibilities — the sky’s the limit!
Today’s Special: Four Star Soldiers Soup (seasoned with courage, resilience, and imagination). Especially good to offset life’s daily battles.
Say yes to dessert: camo cupcakes and fighter jet cookies:
photo by lyonskatwork.
photo by whimsical.whisk.
Plan A: Fly on over to your local indie to score your copy of Operation Yes, or order online.
Plan B: Visit the special Operation Yes website, which has its own blog, videos, cool photos, and fun activities, like, How to Make a Star from a Straw Wrapper :)! Sara has planned some giveaways, contests and surprises in the next few weeks, so check back often.
Plan E: All of the above.
Shakesbear and friends say YES to Sara’s new book!
More Soup of the Day posts here.
Over and out!
Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.