February 21, 2020

Keep Calm and Carry On Children by Sharon Mayhew

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 4:18 pm by suebe2

Keep Calm and Carry On Children
by Sharon Mayhew
Black Rose Writing

A while back, I won a copy of this book in a drawing complete with a variety of British snacks to accompany my reading experience.  That’s ironic, snacks to munch on while reading about rationing and the like.

I’ve read a number of books about Britain during World War II and the bombings that took such a heavy toll on London.  But this story is told from the perspective of eleven year-old Joyce.  Through her eyes, I saw just how many assumptions I had made.  My first?  I pictured commercial bomb shelters, government built shelters for neighborhoods and metro tunnels.  I hadn’t realized that numerous people sheltered in what were essentially trenches with a piece of sheet metal over the top.

After their neighbor’s shelter fails to keep him safe, Joyce and her younger sister are sent away as part of operation Pied Piper.  Trains were filled with children and sent into the countryside for the duration of the war.  My second assumption?  I thought that there would be homes lined up for the children.  I didn’t realize that once they got off the train, they were told to walk along the road until someone picked them out.

Keep Calm and Carry On Children tells of the situation in London as well as the lives that many children faced once the evacuated.  Some were used as laborers.  Others found loving families.  And many of these children brought comfort to the families who took them in.

Sharon’s story was inspired by her grandfather’s tales of being evacuated to the countryside.  The details that she includes in her story, both those gleaned from her grandfather and those she found in her research, bring this world to life for her readers.  Readers will also be inspired by Joyce because although she was frightened she kept an eye not only on her sister but also on other children on the train.

The story is realistic without being gory and will bring history to life for Sharon’s readers.

–SueBE

June 7, 2018

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:56 am by suebe2

Wait for Me
by Caroline Leech
Harper Teen

Farm life is anything but idyllic in 1945 Scotland.  Both of Lorna Anderson’s brothers are in World War II.  That means that it is just Lorna, her father, and Nellie to get everything done.  Nellie is a Land Girl, sent from the city to the countryside to help out on one of Scotland’s undermanned farms.  Nellie’s learned small engine repair and she’s great with the cattle, but there is just too much work for one man and two girls. Lorna can see how exhausted her father is.

She’s still shocked when an Army truck pulls up and leaves behind a prisoner.  Lorna knows her father needs help but she does not want a Nazi on her farm.  Her first surprise is the prisoner’s face.  One side looks almost like it has melted and she realizes he has recovered from horrible burns.  Then he tells her in English that he is no Nazi.

Lorna tries to nurse her hatred, after all the Germans are the reason for this war that has taken away her brothers.  But her father befriends the young man giving him gloves to ward off the cold and making sure he has plenty to eat.  During lambing season when they work late into the night, Mr. Anderson arranges for Paul to stay on the farm instead of returning to the base prison each night.  Lorna sees how good he is with the lambs and watches him joking with Nellie and working beside her father.

When he comforts her after a date goes horribly wrong, Lorna realizes that she too cares for the young German, perhaps as more than a friend.

I don’t really want to say anything else about the plot because I don’t want to give it away.  But Leech has woven together a story that does an excellent job of examining issues of right and wrong and who is really a friend or an enemy.  Leech did her research, not wanting to create romantic tension where none was possible.

The characters in this book are three-dimensional and realistic.  Lorna’s fellow Scots are not all good people.  The Germans are not villainous caricatures.  And the emotions?  They are real.

Share this title with your young reader who likes history, romance or a great fictional story.  Leech has created a winner.

–SueBE

October 2, 2014

Top Secret Files: World War II by Stephanie Bearce

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:02 am by suebe2

Top Secret Files: World War II 
by Stephanie Bearce
Profrock Press

From Josephine Baker to explosive balloons and baseball player Moe Berg.  All this and more is in the pages of this book.  Bearce has defintely created a series that will hook young readers and make them want to know more about hstory.  She’s done it by telling them about the things that aren’t generally covered in history books or lessons.

Each book in this series has five sections:  Secrets, Spies, Special Missions, Secret Weapons and Secret Forces.  Since I live in St. Louis, I especially enjoyed reading about Baker who is from just across the river.  As a female entertainer, she could move about more freely than other people and soldiers, even officers, often spoke freely in front of her.  She became a valuable spy for the French.

Bearce has also written about the secret codes, covering both the Nazi’s Enigma machine and the Bletchley Park code breakers who worked so hard to set up a similar device working with a stolen machine.  She has also written about a variety of men and women who worked as spies.  Many of the successful spies were women simply because soldiers didn’t automatically suspect a house wife or cute girl of being an enemy agent.

Another part that I really enjoyed was reading about two secret cities.  One was real and located in Tennessee.  The other was a fake, used to hide the facilities where air craft were built.

As with other books in this series, Bearce avoids overwhelming her readers by delivering the information in easy digestible chunks.  A reluctant reader can stop after reading about Josephine Baker while a more eager reader can devour the entire section on spies.

Readers who are especially intrigued by the topic will find a list of resources in the back of the book.

Bearce presents a wide variety of information, describing the world of Americans, Candadians, British, French, Germans and Russians. She has even included a princess from India.  Bearce is a former teacher and she knows both how to hook her readers and how to deliver the facts.

Pick this one up for history buffs, those who aren’t sure and even adult enthusiasts.  Each will find something new in this book.

–SueBE

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