Tag Archives: World War II

A Year of Borrowed Men

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A Year of Borrowed Men

by Michelle Barker, illustrated by Renne Benoit
Pajama Press, 2015

In 1944 when all available German men were fighting in the war, French men were ‘borrowed’ to help work on the farms.  A true story of the author’s mother and told from a child’s point of view readers experience the fears, the friendships and the unfairness of how people were forced to live during the war.  The family wants to treat the workers well, but they are limited on what they can do.  They feed them well, but the men must sleep in the stinky barn.  A gentle story, told from the view point of a German girl, of how the war impacted German families.  A beautiful, poignant story that subtly introduces humanity during times of war.

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Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust
by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano & Greg Salsedo
First Second, 2012
originally published in France
2015 Mildred L. Batcheleder Award, Honor Book
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014
2015 Sydney Taylor Award Winner

A sensitive graphic book for the youngest readers depicting one French, Jewish family’s experience during World War II.  Young Elsa asks her grandmother why she was so sad, and her grandmother shares her story.  She tells of her becoming a ‘family of sheriffs’, which immediately made her an outcast.  One night her family is taken away, but she was left behind in a box.  A neighbor comes and cares for her, until it is too dangerous and she must leave.  A moving story told from the innocent—but learning—perspective of a young girl.

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Soldier Bear

Soldier Bear
Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman
Eerdmans Children’s Books, 2008

A bear named Voytek, meaning ‘smiling warrior’ in Polish, was found and adopted by five Polish soldiers serving in the British Corps during World War II. Based on a true story, the bear soon becomes their beloved pet. The men convince their Commanding Officer to make him Private Voytek, a member of the Corps. Voytek improves the morale of all the men, bringing laughter to an otherwise dismal time. Near the front lines, Voytek steps up to help unload bombs. Voytek becomes a hero when he captures a spy and when he convinces a new CO to send him, as part of the transportation unit, to the front lines. A remarkable story.

Netherlands author Bibi Dumon Tak brilliantly places the story in the life and death realities of a war and tells it in a way children can accept. This is the kind of story that stays with you long after the last page is read.

Soldier Bear won the 2012 Batchelder Award, an award given to a translated children’s book.

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