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Winnie's War

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  148 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
A debut novel set against the backdrop of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

Life in Winnie's sleepy town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just fine for her. Although her troubled mother's distant behavior has always worried Winnie, she's plenty busy caring for her younger sisters, going to school, playing chess with Mr. Levy, and avoiding her testy grandmother. Plus, her sweethe
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Walker Childrens
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Joan Stradling for

During the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918, Winnie struggles to keep her family and friends safe. But how can she fight something she can't see?

In this time of illness, Winnie learns tough lessons about life, death, and a mother and grandmother she never fully understood.

WINNIE'S WAR kept me reading as I suffered with and cheered Winnie on. With such likeable and relatable characters, Moss pulled me effortlessly into Coward Creek, Texas, in the f
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I had the good fortune to read an ARC of Winnie's War and was swept away by Jenny Moss's story of a small-town Texas girl standing up to try and protect her family from the 1918 influenza epidemic. This is the very best kind of historical fiction - full of rich characters, vividly detailed history, the suspense of a threatening pandemic, and even a touch of romance, in the form of a first-kiss scene that made me smile for weeks after I read it. Teachers, in particular, will want to snatch this o ...more
Grades 4-6
Life in Winnie’s small town outside of Galveston, Texas is predictable in 1918—until the residents start feeling the effects of the influenza pandemic that is sweeping the country. Suddenly, healthy adults and children are being struck down in a matter of days, and there is no known cure. Twelve-year-old Winnie feels that she must take matters into her own hands to protect her family: her emotionally frail mother cannot guard Winnie’s two younger sisters, and her grandmother refuses to
Feb 09, 2009 rated it liked it
The novel, Winnie's War, is set in 1918 during the epidemic or outbreak of the Spanish influenza. Winnie lives with her family--mother, father, grandmother, and her younger sisters--in a small-town in Texas. Her mother is emotionally scarred and a bit unresponsive--having survived the great Galveston hurricane of 1900. The novel is about many things--life, death, survival, risk, fear, love, loss, hope, friends, and family--but above all else it is a novel about growing up and trying to hold onto ...more
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've wanted to read this book for a while, because the author of this book is actually one of my really close friends' moms. It's another young adult novel, but I quite enjoyed it. It was well-researched on the Spanish influenza, a topic that isn't discussed often. It's also based around where I live, so it hit home in a number of ways. Ms. Moss (sorry...I just can't refer to my friend's mom by her first name :P) develops a story about a family with very distinct personalities holding themselves ...more
Deva Fagan
Oct 03, 2008 added it
Shelves: 2008-read
An intriguing look at a moment in time: not just the 1918 influenza epidemic that serves as the backdrop, but the changes wrought in the life of narrator Winnie. I enjoyed how this book provided a window into both the macro and the micro. We see how the fear of the epidemic spreads even ahead of the disease itself, while at the same time exploring Winnie's relationship with her troubled mother.
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
A detailed, carefully crafted historical that takes place during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Winnie struggles with a distant mama and caring for her family as the flu strikes her town.

Beautifully written!
Beth Thames
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
This book gave me nightmares, since it is about the 1918 flu epidemic and we are all looking at a pandamic again. That being said, the fact that is scared me so much menas it was well-written Multi-faceted characters and a Texas setting by a Texas author.
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great voice!

You won't forget Winnie, or her family, or her story.
Jun 29, 2009 added it
This beautifully written story proves why middle-grade historical needs to be published!
Winnie’s small town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just outside Galveston, decimated by the great 1900 hurricane. Almost two decades later, there’s another looming disaster: the Spanish influenza. When Winnie’s father brings her along on a carpentry job to measure a deceased neighbor for a coffin, Winnie knows that the flu has come to Coward Creek. She will try anything she can to protect her family and keep them from catching the flu, even though she knows that the home remedies are all but useless ...more
Although this book is putatively about the great influenza epidemic that swept America and Europe during and after World War I, it is in fact a tale of growing up after the turn of the century in a small town. Winnie is an unusually thoughtful 12-year-old girl growing up in the Texas town of Coward Creek (great name), who inevitably has issues with her parents (particularly her remote mother), her grandmother, her best friend, and various other townspeople. In the course of the book, as the flu ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Winnie's War" is a beautifully-written "life time" story that seemingly promises to be exciting and perhaps something like "Aftershocks," but instead is a pretty laidback day-to-day tale that has no sudden, breath-stealing moments. Just like the disease this story concerns, things slip by quietly and end just as quietly. So don't expect there to be any action, not even on a mild level. It reads more like a Dear America - and Winnie is definitely as good a narrator as those long-dead voices of t ...more
Mary Louise Sanchez
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Life in Winnie’s 1918 small town outside of Galveston, Texas is just fine by her but a place her best friend, Tillie, wants to leave, eventually, to become a Hollywood movie star. Then things take a turn and the influeza pandemic has spread from the soldiers coming back from the Great War over there to Winnie's town, Coward Creek, Texas, over here. Since Winnie's mother is emotionally unstable and her bossy grandmother is more interested in being accepted by the social elite, Winnie takes charge ...more
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I liked the blurb on, so I'm just copying it: Life in Winnie’s sleepy town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just fine for her. Although her troubled mother’s distant behavior has always worried Winnie, she’s plenty busy caring for her younger sisters, going to school, playing chess with Mr. Levy, and avoiding her testy grandmother. Plus, her sweetheart Nolan is always there to make her smile when she’s feeling low. But when the Spanish Influenza claims its first victim, lives are suddenl ...more
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a young vulnerable girl living in Texas during WWI and the Spanish influenza epidemic. Winnie’s mother is emotionally remote and her maternal grandmother runs the household with an iron fist. Winnie is rebellious and intentionally tests her grandmother as much as possible. Winnie keep a lot inside and struggles with worry that the flu with take one of her sisters away. She is extremely curious about the origin of her mother’s problems but no one wants to tell her anything.
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this book! I would actually give it 3.5 stars. It is a nice short story with an interesting plot.

The author basis the story from true events in the early 1900's when the Spanish flu hit major cities in the United States.

Winnie is a young girl, who lives with her parents, sisters and a mean grandmother, with determination and a heart of gold. Winnie and her grandmother don't seem to get along very well and Winnie often feels picked on.

As the flu starts to spread through Winnie's small t
Sandra Stiles
Oct 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
The year is 1918 and the influenza pandemic is rushing through Coward Creek, Texas. This is the name of the town where Winnie lives. her father builds coffins for the towns people. he has been kept busy for qute some time. Winnie worries about all of the people who are getting the flu. Winnie has to learn to stay strong as the flu hits her own family and her friends. This was a slow book for me. I did enjoy the character development. I saw Winnie as a rambunctious child and then saw the underlyi ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really I chose it for the name ... not all that common and the name of a little one near and dear to me. Lo and behold there's ANOTHER fairly uncommon name (Clara) in there of another slightly older near and dear one.

But then it turned out to be a lovely little story as well.

Set in a fictional Texas town during the season of the Spanish flu epidemic, the characters make this story more even than the applicable plot. Winnie. Clara. Nolan. Mr. Levy. Tillie. Winnie's parents and sisters. All of the
Erin Sterling
Set in 1918 in a small Texan town at the time of the Spanish Influenza, Winnie is a spirited, feisty young girl who lives with two younger sisters, a gentle carpenter father, a sad and distant mother, and a grandmother who drives Winnie crazy. Despite the world being at war and young soldiers getting killed, Winnie feels safe playing chess with her elderly friend Mr. Levy and going fishing with her romantic interest Nolan, until the Spanish Influenza hits the town. Winnie is determined to keep h ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This is "younger" adult than I've read in a long time but it was $2 on Amazon and the storyline is interesting - historical fiction Spanish Influenza in small town Texas during WWI. Good story - touches less on history and more on fairly deep family/small town issues: including death, multigenerational conflicts, friendship, young love, society clubs, and even anti-semitism. Doesn't touch on any one of those very deeply - perhaps that is a product of the audience. A sweet book with a strong youn ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it liked it
This book didn't really do much for me. I felt like it took a while to really get going, and that the majority of real action happened toward the end. I would have liked a higher sense of tension, rather than just seeing that Winnie is worried. I felt like the emotion was a bit flat.

That said, I think this would be a good book for a young reader. I liked that it took a look at a slice of time at the end of WWI when a massive flu pandemic was rampant.
Recommended Ages: grades 4 and up

Winnie lives in Coward Creek, Texas with her mother, father, two younger sisters and her mean grandmother, Clara. When the Spanish Flu hits this small town in 1918, Winnie worries that it would affect her family, and she tries to do what she can to keep her family safe.
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I think this book just came at the perfect moment for me. The Spanish Flu epidemic has long been a curiosity of mine, and then a few months ago I learned that both of my grandmother's parents died of it, which drove me to pick up this book. While the beginning was a little rough, the ending just got better and better. It had me laughing then crying and finally ending with a smile.
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Michele, Melissa
An improbably mature 12 year old in rural Texas tries to save her family from the influenza epidemic of 1918. While I felt the characters were well drawn, due to the subject matter I found the book somewhat depressing.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it liked it
I expected more from this short book. There were so many names that it was hard to keep things straight, Mr. This and Mrs. That, until I was lost and didn't know who was who. I was happy to see a book about World War One though. They are hard to find.
Mary Havens
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Apparently, there are not a lot of books about the Spanish Influenza (only one in my libraries) so I was delighted to discover this gem. I felt that the book really captured this time period, especially after just reading "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" by Katherine Anne Porter. Interesting YA read.
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it
A sweet story about living through the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, loss, fear and hope. I think I liked best Winnie's evaluation of what people were afraid of, and her conclusion that we must live with both the dark and the light.
Riley Schneider
May 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
the book is great so far!
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great middle grade novel about the flue pandemic of 1918. Takes place in the Galveston, TX area.
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Jenny Moss lives in Texas and writes.

She is the author of SHADOW (Scholastic Press) and WINNIE'S WAR and TAKING OFF (Walker/Bloomsbury). She also writes under her birth name, Jennifer McKissack (the YA Gothic SANCTUARY, Scholastic Press).
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