When there’s no end in sight to the nightly rain of Nazi bombs over London, 12-year-old Beatrice Sims is sent to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with public health nurse Clementine Pope. Armed with a trunk of proper dresses and a little red notebook to record her observations, Beatrice finds herself unprepared for life in the Wild West.

First shocked by New Mexico’s centipedes and other creatures, Clementine’s unladylike trousers and attending school in everyday clothes—and with boys, no less—Beatrice soon finds herself in awe of the region’s vast beauty. She enjoys the freedom of expressing her own opinions and the excitement of befriending cute classmate Esteban. The girl’s (and readers’) true eye-opening experiences come when she accompanies Clementine to an impoverished Indian pueblo, where she realizes that the battle against poverty and disease is just as important as the war back home.

What makes Rosemary Zibart’s True Brit most engaging is the attention to detail, from descriptions of mud homes and piñon trees to “A-okay” American slang. Beatrice’s journal entries add more insight into her evolution from a privileged girl to the beginnings of a modern woman. The first in a series, this fresh take on the era will continue with more stories about displaced children during World War II.

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