Voices in Wartime

Young Adult Fiction--Reeder to Shea

Reeder, Carol.  Foster’s War (Scholastic, Reprint, 2000).

When his older brother joins the army during World War II, in order to escape the rages of an authoritarian father, eleven-year-old Foster fights his battles on the home front.

 

Reiss, Johanna.  The Journey Back (Backinprint.com, 2007).

The Second World War is over. Annie and her sister Sini, who have been hiding from the Germans for almost three years, are free again. They leave the hamlet of Usselo and the Oosterveld family that had sheltered them and return to their hometown. Their father also survived as did their sister, Rachel. The Journey Back tells of what can happen to members of a family, Jews in this case, when reunion demonstrates they no longer know each other. The book speaks for all people at all times and is as moving as its predecessor, The Upstairs Room.

 

Reiss, Johanna.  The Upstairs Room (HarperTrophy, 1990).

When the German army occupied Holland, Annie de Leeuw was eight years old. Because she was Jewish, the occupation put her in grave danger-she knew that to stay alive she would have to hide. Fortunately, a Gentile family, the Oostervelds, offered to help. For two years they hid Annie and her sister, Sini, in the cramped upstairs room of their farmhouse. Most people thought the war wouldn't last long. But for Annie and Sini -- separated from their family and confined to one tiny room -- the war seemed to go on forever. 

In the part of the marketplace where flowers had been sold twice a week-tulips in the spring, roses in the summer-stood German tanks and German soldiers. Annie de Leeuw was eight years old in 1940 when the Germans attacked Holland and marched into the town of Winterswijk where she lived. Annie was ten when, because she was Jewish and in great danger of being cap-tured by the invaders, she and her sister Sini had to leave their father, mother, and older sister Rachel to go into hiding in the upstairs room of a remote farmhouse. 

Johanna de Leeuw Reiss has written a remarkably fresh and moving account of her own experiences as a young girl during World War II. Like many adults she was innocent of the German plans for Jews, and she might have gone to a labor camp as scores of families did. "It won't be for long and the Germans have told us we'll be treated well," those families said. "What can happen?" They did not know, and they could not imagine.... But millions of Jews found out.  Mrs. Reiss's picture of the Oosterveld family with whom she lived, and of Annie and Sini, reflects a deep spirit of optimism, a faith in the ingenuity, backbone, and even humor with which ordinary human beings meet extraordinary challenges. In the steady, matter-of-fact, day-by-day courage they all showed lies a profound strength that transcends the horrors of the long and frightening war. Here is a memorable book, one that will be read and reread for years to come. 

 

Richter, Hans Peter.  Friedrich (Puffin Books, New edition, 1987).  

A young German boy recounts the fate of his best friend, a Jew, during the Nazi regime.

 


Rylant, Cynthia.  I Had Seen Castles (Harcourt Paperbacks, 2004).

John Dante is seventeen when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and he wants to fight for his country. But then he falls head over heels for Ginny Burton, who is against all war, and his beliefs are suddenly questioned. Rather than be judged a traitor or a coward, though, John enlists--a decision that changes his life forever.

 

Salisbury, Graham.  Eyes of the Emperor (Laurel Leaf, 2007).

Eddy Okana lies about his age and joins the Army in his hometown of Honolulu only weeks before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Suddenly Americans see him as the enemy—even the U.S. Army doubts the loyalty of Japanese American soldiers. Then the Army sends Eddy and a small band of Japanese American soldiers on a secret mission to a small island off the coast of Mississippi. Here they are given a special job, one that only they can do. Eddy's going to help train attack dogs. He's going to be the bait.

 


Salisbury, Graham.  Under the Blood-Red Sun (Laurel Leaf, Reissue edition, 2005).

Tomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats.  But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi’s father and grandfather are arrested. It’s a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn’t change: the loyalty of Tomi’s buddies, the Rats.

 


Salisbury, Graham.  The House of the Red Fish (Wendy Lamb Books, 2006).

1943, one year after the end of Under the Blood-Red Sun, Tomi’s Papa and Grandpa are still under arrest, and the paradise of Hawaii now lives in fear—waiting for another attack, while trying to recover from Pearl Harbor. As a Japanese American, Tomi and his family have new enemies everywhere, vigilantes who suspect all Japanese. Tomi finds hope in his goal of raising Papa’s fishing boat, sunk in the canal by the Army on the day of the attack. To Tomi, raising Papa’s boat is a sign of faith that Papa and Grandpa will return. It’s an impossible task, but Tomi is determined. For just as he now has new enemies, his struggle to raise the boat brings unexpected allies and friends.

 

Samuel, Wolfgang W.E.  German Boy: A Child in War (Broadway, 2001).

As the Third Reich crumbled in 1945, scores of Germans scrambled to flee the advancing Russian troops. Among them was a little boy named Wolfgang Samuel, who left his home with his mother and sister and ended up in war-torn Strasbourg before being forced farther west into a disease-ridden refugee camp. German Boy is the vivid, true story of their fight for survival as the tables of power turned and, for reasons Wolfgang was too young to understand, his broken family suffered arbitrary arrest, rape, hunger, and constant fear.

Because his father was off fighting the war as a Luftwaffe officer, young Wolfgang was forced to become the head of his household, scavenging for provisions and scraps with which to feed his family. Despite his best efforts, his mother still found herself forced to do the unthinkable to survive, and her sacrifices became Wolfgang’s worst nightmares. Somehow, with the resilience only children can muster, he maintained his youth and innocence in little ways–making friends with other young refugees, playing games with shrapnel, delighting in the planes flown by the Americans and the candies the GIs brought. In the end, the Samuels begin life anew in America, and Wolfgang eventually goes on to a thirty-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

 

Savin, Marcia.  The Moon Bridge (Scholastic, 1995).

Savin sets her first children's novel in San Francisco during 1942-1945 when Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps to deflect possible espionage activity. Ruthie, a fifth-grader, is shocked when her best friend taunts new student Mitzi Fujimoto. After Ruthie defends the girl, she is ostracized as well and inwardly blames Mitzi for her troubles. But Ruthie and Mitzi eventually forge a meaningful alliance, until the Fujimotos are dispatched to an internment center. The girls correspond, but lose touch when Mitzi and her family are transferred to a camp in Arkansas. After the war, the two friends reunite and, though both are changed by their experiences, discover that their mutual affection remains. While the author's writing style is not particularly distinctive--and occasionally awkward phraseology disrupts the narrative flow—her book commendably depicts a shameful period in America's history. An afterword providing historical perspective may spark discussion among curious readers. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 


Schuman, Jane.  This Is My Country Too!: Growing up in a Japanese-American Internment Camp (PublishAmerica, 2006).

After December 7, 1941, life changed for everyone in America. War was declared on Japan, Italy and Germany. Lisa and her family learn they are feared, hated and are to be separated from all the other people in America. Her family and all the Japanese will be punished. They are sent to Jerome, Arkansas, to live in an internment camp surrounded by swampland. Not only do they lose their home, but also the country they have known all their lives. This Is My Country Too! shows all the confusion a girl must deal with during these two years. The story also deals with the feelings other people have towards them. Many hate them but have never seen a Japanese person. Every day is filled with fear and depression. It is only with a loving family that Lisa is able to endure this time in her life.

 

Sender, Ruth Minsky.  The Cage (Simon Pulse, Reprint edition, 1997).

A teenage girl recounts the suffering and persecution of her family under the Nazis, in a Polish ghetto, during deportation, and in a concentration camp.

 

 

Serraillier, Ian.  The Silver Sword (aka, Escape from Warsaw) (Random House Children’s Books, 2003).

A moving account of a journey through war-torn Europe.  Alone and fending for themselves in a Poland devastated by war, Jan and his three homeless friends cling to the silver sword as a symbol of hope. As they travel through Europe towards Switzerland, where they believe they will be reunited with their parents, they encounter many hardships and dangers.

 

Shea, George.  The Silent Hero (Random House for Young Readers, 1994).

Thirteen-year-old Pierre, who is both deaf and mute, witnesses the December 1940 downing of an Allied airplane by Germans near his home in St. Claire, France. With great difficulty, he manages to rescue the American pilot, Jim Rush, and hide him from the Nazis in a secret room under a woodshed until he can be safely returned to England. Based on a true event, Shea's book vividly portrays life in occupied France, with special emphasis on the activities of the French Resistance. Although classified as nonfiction (no sources are cited), the text reads like an adventure story. The short chapters and a relatively easy reading level will make the book attractive to young history buffs and also hold the attention of older reluctant readers. (Kay Weisman for Booklist)

 

Young Adult Fiction--Orlev to Pettit

Orlev, Uri.  Run, Boy, Run (Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 2003).

Run, Boy, Run is the extraordinary account of one boy's survival of the Holocaust. Srulik is only eight years old when he finds himself all alone in the Warsaw ghetto. He escapes into the countryside where he spends the ensuing years hiding in the forest, dependent on the sympathies and generosity of the poor farmers in the surrounding area. Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, several chases, captures, attempted executions, and even the loss of his arm, Srulik miraculously survives.

 


Orlev, Uri.  Man from the Other Side (Puffin, 1995).

The true story of a teenager's experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, as he discovers his own heritage and finds himself caught up in the war through underground dealings. "This is a story of individual bravery and national shame that highlights just how hopeless was the fate of the Warsaw Jews as they fought alone and heroically against the Nazi war machine."

 


Orlev, Uri.  The Island on Bird Street (Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 1992).

During World War II a Jewish boy is left on his own for months in a ruined house in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he must learn all the tricks of survival under constantly life-threatening conditions.  Uri Orlev was born in Warsaw in 1931. He spent the years 1939–41 in hiding in the Warsaw ghetto with his mother and younger brother. When his mother was killed by the Nazis, he and his brother were sent to Bergen-Belsen. After the war, Orlev went to Israel. He now lives in Jerusalem with his wife and their three children. In 1996, Uri Orlev received the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition given to an author of children's books, for his lasting contribution to children's literature.

 

Osborne, Mary Pope.  My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck, Long Island, New York 1941 (Scholastic, 2003).

Maddie Beck, 13, lives with her mother in a Long Island boardinghouse while her lieutenant-commander father is stationed in the Pacific. Her mother rapidly fits in to their new community, but Maddie finds it difficult to make friends, until classmate (and crush) Johnny Vecchio learns that her father is in the Navy. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Maddie and Johnny organize a student group to sell war bonds, gather scrap metal, collect newspapers and used books, and make first-aid kits for the Red Cross. One restless night, Maddie takes a walk on the beach and encounters someone with a heavy accent and another threatening character. This night leads to more mysterious events that finally prompt her to call the FBI, which leads to the arrest of four Nazi agents. Then the Becks get a telegram that Maddie's father has been injured, and they prepare to move to San Francisco where he is to be hospitalized. Osborne has done an excellent job of capturing the feelings and anxieties of the time coupled with the concerns and uncertainties of young people. (School Library Journal)

 

Panchyk, Richard.  World War II for Kids (Chicago Review Press, 2002).

In this introductory survey, Panchyk describes major events throughout the great conflict in nearly every theater of operation. While the main focus is on America's part in the war, life in England and other European countries is given careful attention. A special aspect of this work is the variety of informative activities appearing in substantial sidebars. Through them, readers can vicariously go on a reconnaissance mission, grow a victory garden, track a ship's movements using latitude and longitude, live on rations for a day, and experience other aspects of wartime life. Adult help and/or permission is suggested for many of the projects. One involves labeling alternate halves of a class of students with special armbands and simulating discrimination; teacher involvement is not mentioned in the instructions. Summarized or quoted first-person accounts by World War II participants are integral parts of this book, which also includes letters and journal entries by soldiers and civilians in both Allied and Axis countries. A large selection of black-and-white contemporary photographs and reproductions of such items as ration stamps and propaganda posters further contribute to the book's immediacy. Attention grabbers are a letter from former President Clinton, a short foreword by Senator John S. McCain, and an afterword by World War II veteran Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings.  (Ann G. Brouse, Steele Memorial Library, Elmira, NY for School Library Journal)

 

Park, Linda Sue.  When My Name Was Keoko (Yearling; Reissue edition, 2004).

Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul are proud of their Korean heritage. Yet they live their lives under Japanese occupation. All students must read and write in Japanese and no one can fly the Korean flag. Hardest of all is when the Japanese Emperor forces all Koreans to take Japanese names. Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. Korea is torn apart by their Japanese invaders during World War II. Everyone must help with war preparations, but it doesn’t mean they are willing to defend Japan. Tae-yul is about to risk his life to help his family, while Sun-hee stays home guarding life-and-death secrets.

 

Parsons, Alexander.  In the Shadows of the Sun (Doubleday Publishing 2005).

Set in the high desert badlands of New Mexico and the ravaged, war-torn landscape of the Philippine jungle, In the Shadows of the Sun tells the story of a New Mexican ranching family — the Stricklands — struggling to hold on to their way of life in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Imprisoned by the Japanese, Jack Strickland endures the horrors of the Bataan Death March, his will to stay alive fueled by his desire to return home. A world away, forces threaten to tear his family apart. An illicit love blooms between Baylis Strickland and his brother's wife, Sara, even as the family confronts the threat of devastating loss and displacement: they have been served with an eviction notice from the War Department, which plans to build a bombing range on the land they've worked for generations.

 

Paulson, Gary.  The Quilt (Yearling, 2005).

A six-year-old boy goes to spend the summer with his grandmother Alida in a small town near the Canadian border. With the men all gone off to fight, the women are left to run the farms. There’s plenty for the boy to do—trying to help with the chores, getting to know the dog, and the horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. But when his cousin Kristina goes into labor, he can’t do a thing. Instead, the house fills with women come to help and to wait, and to work on a quilt together. This is no common, everyday quilt, but one that contains all the stories of the boy’s family. The quilt tells the truth, past and future: of happiness, courage, and pain; of the greatest joy, and the greatest loss. And as they wait, the women share these memorable stories with the boy.

 

Paulson, Gary.  The Cookcamp (Scholastic, Reprint, 2003).

When? World War II, Where?: A cookcamp in the Canadian woods. Why? He's not really sure. One summer, a 5-year-old boy goes to live with his grandmother in a cookcamp. The camp is home to 9 men who are building a road through the woods. The boy misses his mother, but at the same time the camp becomes home--a special home where he learns to spit and rides the tractor. It's a wonderful summer, but then he lets slip to his grandmother about "Uncle Casey" and she writes seven letters to his mother. Seven letters that she mails "good and hard." A short while later, the boy returns home.

 

Pausewant, Gudrun.  The Final Journey (Puffin, 1998).

What was it like in the railway cattle cars bound for Auschwitz? This novel, first published in Germany in 1992, tells it from the viewpoint of an 11-year-old Jewish girl. Alice Dubsky has spent two years in hiding in a basement, protected from the knowledge of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Now suddenly, crammed with nearly 50 people in the hot, stinking darkness of the train car, she faces the fact that they are prisoners being taken to a camp. That must be why her parents disappeared months before. She sees her grandfather die and witnesses the miracle of a baby born in the excrement, even as she learns for the first time from a young woman how babies are made. People cling to their possessions. Some share and help one another. Someone else dies. The train stops at sidings; people outside hear the cries and do nothing.

 


Pelzman, Liliane.  And No More Sorrow (Llumina Press, 2010).

The year is 1940. The place is Amsterdam, Holland. In a Europe that is torn apart by a Nazi regime, Sonja is forced to come to grips with unbelievable losses-her husband, her family, her way of life-all by the age of eighteen. In And No More Sorrow Pelzman, Sonja's daughter, vividly and masterfully presents her mother's story against the historical events that took place during Hitler's regime. After a long period of being incommunicado, during which Pelzman wrestles with her mother's pain, mother and daughter reconnect and make history together. Sonja's story teaches the reader that ultimately, it is friends, love, and family that motivate and guide us through our most challenging moments. And No More Sorrow succeeds on many levels. At once thrilling, passionate and educational, it deserves a place in the ranks of biographical literature.

 

Pettit, Jayne.  A Place To Hide: True Stories of Holocaust Rescues (Scholastic Biography, Reissue edition, 1993).

This slim, accessible volume relates the stories of five heroes (or sets of heroes) who hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II at great risk to their lives and families. Two are somewhat familiar:  Miep Santrouschitz, who hid Anne Frank and her family in a tiny apartment above a business in Holland, and, Oskar Schindler (subject of the movie "Schindler's List") who spent his fortune bribing the Nazis in order to save over one thousand Jews from the death camps.  The others are lesser-known, but quite fascinating (and inspiring):  The story of Denmark, under it's remarkable king Christian X, and it's resistance against the Nazis; Andre and Magda Trocme and the city of Le Chambon France who provided a place of refuge for many Jews; Padre Niccacci of Assisi, Italy, who rescued many Jews, even hiding them in the cloistered convents (this is also the subject of a movie called "The Assisi Underground").  (Amazon.com)

 

Young Adult Fiction--McEwan to Newton

McEwan, Ian.  Rose Blanche (Red Fox, 2004).

During World War II, a young German schoolgirl, Rose Blanche, follows the soldiers when they arrest a boy and discovers a concentration camp in the woods. Thereafter , she takes food to the prisoners until the town is liberated. Ironically, when she travels to the camp on that day she is shot by the soldiers. The oppression of Fascism is shown through the powerful and realistic paintings. In Innocenti's large, meticulously detailed paintings, Rose Blanche is the only brightly colored individual, and her small figure is set against the drab colors of overwhelming buildings and masses of soldiers and townspeople. No skyline is shown until a radiant spring bursts forth at the site of her death after the liberation. Although the story is simply told, it will require interpretation as details such as the concentration camp are not named nor explained, and the death of Rose Blanche is implied but not stated. This is a difficult book to classify, as the text is easy enough for a young child to read alone, and it has the appearance of a picture bookbut the content of the text and illustrations is full of emotional impact and subtlety.  (Lorraine Douglas, Winnipeg Public Library, Manitoba, Canada for School Library Journal)

 

McGowen, Tom.  Lonely Eagles and Buffalo Soldiers: African Americans in World War II (Franklin Watts, 1995).

Comprehensive overview of African American military participation in World War II.  For students in upper elementary school.  Includes very good photographs.

 

McMahon, Thomas.  Principles of American Nuclear Chemistry (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

What was life like for the scientists working at Los Alamos? Thomas McMahon imagines this life through the wide eyes of young Tim McLaurin, the thirteen-year-old son of an MIT physicist who, inspired by a young woman named Maryann, worked on the project. Filled with the sensuous excitement of scientific discovery and the outrageous behavior of people pushed beyond their limits, Principles of American Nuclear Chemistry is a beautifully written coming-of-age story that explores the mysterious connection between love and work, inspiration and history. 

 

Meltzer, Milton.  Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust (HarperTrophy, Reprint edition, 1991).

Six million—a number impossible to visualize. Six million Jews were killed in Europe between the years 1933 and 1945.  What can that number mean to us today?  We can that number mean to us today?  We are told never to forget the Holocaust, but how can we remember something so incomprehensible?  We can think, not of the numbers, the statistics, but of the people. For the families torn apart, watching mothers, fathers, children disappear or be slaughtered, the numbers were agonizingly comprehensible. One. Two. Three.  Often more. Here are the stories of those people, recorded in letters and diaries, and in the memories of those who survived. Seen through their eyes, the horror becomes real. We cannot deny it--and we can never forget. 

 

Meyers, Walter Dean.  The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins (Scholastic, 1999).

A seventeen-year-old soldier from central Virginia records his experiences in a journal as his regiment takes part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and subsequent battles to liberate France.

 

Millman, Isaac.  Hidden Child (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005).

Isaac was seven when the Germans invaded France and his life changed forever. First his father was taken away, and then, two years later, Isaac and his mother were arrested. Hoping to save Isaac’s life, his mother bribed a guard to take him to safety at a nearby hospital, where he and many other children pretended to be sick, with help from the doctors and nurses. But this proved a temporary haven. As Isaac was shuttled from city to countryside, experiencing the kindness of strangers, and sometimes their cruelty, he had to shed his Jewish identity to become Jean Devolder. But he never forgot who he really was, and he held on to the hope that after the war he would be reunited with his parents. After more than fifty years of keeping his story to himself, Isaac Millman has broken his silence to tell it in spare prose, vivid composite paintings, and family photos that survived the war.

 

Morpurgo, Michael.  Waiting for Anya (Mammoth, 2001).

Like the acclaimed Number the Stars, this well-plotted novel features a young Gentile hero battling the Germans in their war against the Jews. As it opens, Jo is guarding the sheep when his dog alerts him to a bear; Jo warns the villagers in his small French town and they kill the hapless beast. The theme here prefigures the more tragic hunt for human prey, while the bear chase itself brings Jo into contact with Benjamin, the reclusive Widow Horcada's Jewish son-in-law, who is hiding in her mountain home. Separated from Anya, his daughter, Benjamin hides other Jewish children and leads them to safety in nearby Spain. Jo is soon enlisted, bringing supplies to the widow's house. Then the Germans encamp in Jo's village, observing everyone and sealing the Spanish border. Jo's concern for the Jews is measured against his reluctant awareness that the German occupiers are not uniformly evil--in fact, the villagers' relations with the Germans form the most distinctive element of the story. Although some key elements are historically improbable (chiefly, a German officer's partial rejection of Nazi principles), the adventure of the Jews' escape into Spain is both gripping and temperate. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Mowat, Farley.  And No Birds Sang (Stackpole Books, 2004).

In July 1942, Farley Mowat was an eager young infantryman bound for Europe and impatient for combat. This powerful, true account of the action he saw, fighting desperately to push the Nazis out of Italy, evokes the terrible reality of war with an honesty and clarity fiction can only imitate. In scene after unforgettable scene, he describes the agony and antic humor of the soldier's existence: the tedium of camp life, the savagery of the front, and the camaraderie shared by those who have been bloodied in battle.

 

Nelson, Pete.  Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, Reprint edition, 2003)

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship sank in 14 minutes. More than 1,000 men were thrown into shark-infested waters. Those who survived the fiery sinking—some injured, many without life jackets—struggled to stay afloat in shark-infested waters as they waited for rescue. But the United States Navy did not even know they were missing. The Navy needed a scapegoat for this disaster. So it court-martialed the captain for “hazarding” his ship. The survivors of the Indianapolis knew that their captain was not to blame. For 50 years they worked to clear his name, even after his untimely death. But the navy would not budge—until an 11-year-old boy named Hunter Scott entered the picture. His history fair project on the Indianapolis soon became a crusade to restore the captain’s good name and the honor of the men who served under him.

 

Newton, William.  Two-Pound Tram (Bloombury Publishing, 2003).

The year was 1937, and Hitler had just walked into Austria. It was also a marvelous year for clouded yellow butterflies. Wilfred and Duncan live in a big old house in Sussex, England. They spend their days catching butterflies and dreaming of escape, and only ever see their parents on Wednesdays for lunch. When their mother elopes and their already distant father takes up with other ladies, they decide that enough is enough. And they have a plan: they will leave home, go to London, and buy a tram, decommissioned by the bus and tram company, that they have seen advertised in the paper for two pounds sterling. Soon the brothers find that their adventures have begun in earnest-as they become proprietors of an old-fashioned horse-drawn tram service, then local celebrities whose tram advertises for a seaside merchant, and finally such heroes of the war effort that they receive a visit from royalty.

 

Young Adult Fiction--Lawrence to Mazer

Lawrence, Iain.  B for Buster (Laurel Leaf, 2006).

Nicknamed after his hometown of Kakabeka, Canada, Kak dreams of flying with the Allied bombers in World War II. So at 16, underage and desperate to escape his abusive parents, he enlists in the Canadian Air Force. Soon he is trained as a wireless operator and sent to a squadron in England, where he’s unabashedly gung ho about flying his first op. He thinks the night ops over Germany will be like the heroic missions of his favorite comic-book heroes. Good will vanquish evil. But his first time out, in a plane called B for Buster, reveals the ops for what they really are—a harrowing ordeal. The bombing raids bring searchlights . . . artillery from below . . . and night fighters above hunting to take the bombers down. One hit, Kak knows, and B for Buster, along with him and his six crewmates, could be destroyed.

 

Lawton, Clive A.  Hiroshima: The Story of the First Atom Bomb (Candlewick, 2004). 

Lawton explores the politics and the science behind the military decision that began the nuclear arms race. Through photographs, maps, and primary sources, he investigates the events that led up to the disaster at Hiroshima in 1945 and discusses the consequences that we are still living with today.

 

Lazan, Lila and Marion Perl.  Four Perfect Pebbles (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 1996).

If she could find four perfect pebbles of almost exactly the same size and shape, it meant that her family would remain whole. Mama and papa and she and Albert would survive Bergen-Belsen. The four of them might even survive the Nazis' attempt to destroy every last Jew in Europe.

 


Lisle, Janet Taylor.  The Art of Keeping Cool (Aladdin Historical Fiction, Reprint edition, 2002).

Fear permeates the Rhode Island coastal town where Robert, his mother, and sister are living out the war with his paternal grandparents: Fear of Nazi submarines offshore. Fear of Abel Hoffman, a German artist living reclusively outside of town. And for Robert, a more personal fear, of his hot-tempered, controlling grandfather. 

As Robert watches the townspeople's hostility toward Hoffman build, he worries about his sensitive cousin Elliot's friendship with the artist. And he wonders more and more about the family secret everyone seems to be keeping from him -- a secret involving Robert's father, a bomber pilot in Europe. Will Elliot's ability to detach himself from the turmoil around him be enough to sustain him when prejudice and suspicions erupt into violence? And can Robert find his own way to deal with the shocking truth about his family's past?

 

Little, Daran.  Coronation Street: The War Years (Andre Deutsch, 2001).

Coronation Street at War, it is September 1939 and 16 year-old Elsie Tanner walks into Coronation Street. Newly married, pregnant and full of hopes and dreams, she has little idea of the difficult times ahead. But within days her husband has enlisted, leaving his teenage bride to face the neighbours alone: snotty Annie Walker; shy Esther Hayes; cocky Jim Todd and Ena Sharples. With their menfolk overseas, the women of Coronation Street are forced to make do, supporting each other through the tragedies of the War. In Part II 'The Way to Victory' the German bombing continues, the Yanks have been posted overseas and, for Elsie Tanner, the world seems to be a colourless place of dreary munitions work and the restrictions of rationing...But all this is about to change as the end of the war draws nearer. Coronation Street: The War Years Saga tells the story of the enduring resilience of the plucky residents of Weatherfield, as they struggle through hardship, absent sweethearts and loss, to emerge as the more mature characters that formed the backbone of the longest-running serial drama on TV.

 

Lobel, Anita.  No Pretty Pictures (HarperTrophy, 2000).

The beloved Caldecott Honor artist now recounts a tale of vastly different kind—her own achingly potent memoir of a childhood of flight, imprisonment, and uncommon bravery in Nazi-occupied Poland. Anita Lobel was barely five when the war began and sixteen by the time she came to America from Sweden, where she had been sent to recover at the end of the war. This haunting book, illustrated with the author's archival photographs, is the remarkable account of her life during those years. Poised, forthright, and always ready to embrace life, Anita Lobel is the main character in the most personal story she will ever tell. Anita Lobel was barely five years old when World War II began and the Nazis burst into her home in Krakow, Poland, changing her life forever. She spent the days of her childhood in hiding with her brother--who was disguised as a girl--and their Catholic nanny in the countryside, the ghetto, and finally in a convent where the Nazis caught up with her. She was imprisoned in a succession of concentration camps until the end of the war. Sent by the Red Cross to recuperate in Sweden, she slowly blossomed as she discovered books and language and art. Since coming to the United States as a teenager, Anita Lobel has spent her life making pictures. She has never gone back. She has never looked back, until now.

 

Loh, Vyvyane.  Breaking the Tongue (W.W. Norton, 2004).

This brilliant novel chronicles the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. Central to the story is one Chinese family: Claude, raised to be more British than the British and ashamed of his own heritage; his father, Humphrey, whose Anglophilia blinds him to possible defeat and his wife's dalliances; and the redoubtable Grandma Siok, whose sage advice falls on deaf ears.Expatriates, spies, fifth columnists, and nationalists—including the elusive young woman Ling-Li—mingle in this exotic culture as the Japanese threat looms. Beset by the horror of war and betrayal and, finally, torture, Claude must embrace his true heritage. In the extraordinary final paragraphs of the novel, the language itself breaks into Chinese. With penetrating observation, Vyvyane Loh unfolds the coming-of-age story of a young man and a nation, a story that deals with myth, race, and class, with the ways language shapes perceptions, and with the intrigue and suffering of war.

 

Lowry, Lois.  Number the Stars (Laurel Leaf, Reprint edition, 1998).

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated," Ellen moves in with the Johansen’ and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life.

 

Magorian, Michelle.  Good Night, Mr. Tom (HarperTeen, 1996).

London is poised on the brink of World War 11. Timid, scrawny Willie Beech -- the abused child of a single mother -- is evacuated to the English countryside. At first, he is terrified of everything, of the country sounds and sights, even of Mr. Tom, the gruff, kindly old man who has taken him in. But gradually Willie forgets the hate and despair of his past. He learns to love a world he never knew existed, a world of friendship and affection in which harsh words and daily beatings have no place. Then a telegram comes. Willie must return to his mother in London. When weeks pass by with no word from Willie, Mr. Tom sets out for London to look for the young boy he has come to love as a son.

 


Matas, Carol.  After the War (Simon Pulse, 1997).

"Didn't the gas ovens finish you all off?" is the response that meets Ruth Mendenberg when she returns to her village in Poland after the liberation of Buchenwald at the end of World War II. Her entire family wiped out in the Holocaust, the fifteen-year-old girl has nowhere to go. Members of the underground organization Brichah find her, and she joins them in their dangerous quest to smuggle illegal immigrants to Palestine. Ruth risks her life to help lead a group of children on a daring journey over half a continent and across the sea to Eretz Israel, using secret routes and forged documents -- and sheer force of will. This adventure will touch readers, who will marvel at the resources and inner strength of mere children helping other children to find a place in this world in which they can belong. Carol Matas, one of the foremost authors of historical fiction, brings the desperation and passion of this remarkable journey to life.

 

Matas, Carol.  Daniel's Story (Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition, 1993).

Daniel, whose family suffers as the Nazis rise to power in Germany, describes his imprisonment in a concentration camp and his eventual liberation.

 

Mazer, Harry.  A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor (Orchard Books, 2003).

December 7, 1941: A morning like any other, but the events of this day would leave no one untouched. For Adam, living near Honolulu, this Sunday morning is one he has been looking forward to—fishing with friends, away from the ever-watchful eyes of his father, a navy lieutenant. Then, right before his eyes, Adam watches Japanese planes fly overhead and attack the U.S. Navy. All he can think is that it's just like in the movies. But as he sees his father's ship, the Arizona, sink beneath the water, he realizes this isn't make-believe. It's real.  Over the next few days, Adam searches for answers—about his friends, the war, and especially, his father. But Adam soon learns sometimes there are no answers.

 

Mazer, Harry.  A Boy No More (Aladdin Books, Reprint, 2006).

Adam Pelko witnessed something horrible: the sinking of the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor—with his father aboard. Since then, Adam and his mother and sister have moved to California, where they are trying to rebuild their lives.  But no matter where Adam goes, he can't get away from the effects of the war. His best friend, Davi, has asked for help. Davi is Japanese American, and his father has been arrested, taken to Manzanar, a Japanese internment camp. Adam isn't sure what to do. If he goes to Manzanar and starts asking questions, he could be risking his own life. But can he simply do nothing and risk losing Davi's friendship forever? Are Davi, his father, and all the other Japanese Americans taken from their homes responsible for what happened at Pearl Harbor?

 

Mazer, Harry.  Heroes Don’t Run (Aladdin Books, 2007).

Adam Pelko witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that killed his father, a lieutenant on the USS Arizona. Even though Adam is underage, he defies his mother's wishes and enlists in the Marines. Sent first to boot camp, then to Okinawa, he experiences the stark reality of war firsthand -- the camaraderie and the glory as well as the grueling regimen, the paralyzing fear, and death. And at every turn, Adam must confront memories of his father. 

 


Mazer, Harry.  The Last Mission (Laurel-Leaf Historical Fiction, Reissue edition, 1981).

In 1944, as World War II is raging across Europe, fifteen-year-old Jack Raab dreams of being a hero. Leaving New York City, his family, and his boyhood behind, Jack uses a false I.D. and lies his way into the U.S. Air Force.  From their base in England, he and his crew fly twenty-four treacherous bombing missions over occupied Europe. The war is almost over and Hitler near defeat when they fly their last mission—a mission destined for disaster. Shot down far behind enemy lines, Jack is taken prisoner and sent to a German POW camp, where his experiences are more terrifying than anything he'd ever imagined.

 

Young Adult Fiction--Inada to Kochenderfer

Inada, Lawson Fusao (Editor) and The California Historical Society.  Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience (Heyday Books, 2000).

The editor of this unusual anthology has drawn from a wealth of material: poetry, prose, biography, news accounts, formal government declarations, letters, and autobiography along with photographs, sketches, and cartoons that reflect the tragedy of the internment. Taken as a whole, it conveys the deep anguish felt by Japanese who defined themselves as citizens of the United States and yet lost their rights as citizens during a time of national fear. There are editorials published in both Japanese-American newspapers and local papers of the time. A girl describes the day she voluntarily left her home to gather with hundreds of other Japanese to board trains to unknown destinations. One selection is from the autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu. There are delicate haiku and woodblock prints. The official documents issued by President Roosevelt that instituted the forced internment are also included. Readers will come away from this book with a deep understanding of the times, the sense of betrayal, and the conflicting feelings among the three major groups of Japanese who went through the ordeal.  (Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA for School Library Journal)

 

Inber, Vera.  Leningrad Diary (St. Martin’s Press, 1971).

Leningrad Diary by Vera Inber was published after the “Siege,” in 1946.  Throughout the siege, Inber was a familiar voice over Leningrad’s radio waves, providing poetry readings that recorded acts of courage, sparked motivation and spoke to the pride of being a Soviet.  Although her writing might now be labeled propagandistic, there is no reason to believe that, at the time it was written, it was anything but sincere.

 

Isaacs, Anne.  Torn Thread (Blue Sky Press, 2002).

Twelve-year-old Eva and her sister have been forced to leave their home in Poland and are imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp. There they must spin thread on treacherous machinery to make clothing and blankets for the German Army. As Eva struggles amid ever worsening dangers to save her life and that of her sick sister, readers witness how two teenagers strive to create home and family amidst inhumanity and chaos. Written in exquisite prose, this story of heartbreak and hope that is rich in detail and symbolism will deeply move readers of all ages.

 


Isaacson, Judith.  Seed of Sarah (University of Illinois Press, Second edition, 1991).

As a teenager in Kaposvar, Hungary, the author dreamed of studying literature at the Sorbonne. At age 19, her reality was forced labor in the notorious camp of Auschwitz. Her memoir of that experience is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, kept alive, as her own was, through humor and creativity. Isaacson tells of evading selection by the feared Dr. Mengele for transport with other young women to the Russian front; of her transfer to Lichentau; and, after the Allied liberation, meeting the American intelligence officer who became her husband. Based on indelible recollections, a return trip to Hungary and research into the Hungarian Holocaust, this is an eloquent picture of a life before and after.  (Publisher’s Weekly)

 


Ishii, Takayuki.  One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children's Peace Statue (Laurel Leaf, 2001).

Ten years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Sadako Sasaki died as a result of atomic bomb disease. Sadako's determination to fold one thousand paper cranes and her courageous struggle with her illness inspired her classmates. After her death, they started a national campaign to build the Children's Peace Statue to remember Sadako and the many other children who were victims of the Hiroshima bombing. On top of the statue is a girl holding a large crane in her outstretched arms. Today in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, this statue of Sadako is beautifully decorated with thousands of paper cranes given by people throughout the world.

 

Joffo, Joseph.  A Bag of Marbles (University Of Chicago Press, 2001).

When Joseph Joffo was ten years old, his father gave him and his brother fifty francs and instructions to flee Nazi-occupied Paris and, somehow, get to the south where France was free. Previously out of print, this book is a captivating and memorable story; readers will instinctively find themselves rooting for these children caught in the whirlwind of World War II.

 

Kacer, Kathy.  Hiding Edith (Second Story Press, 2006).

Hiding Edith is the true story of Edith Schwalb, a young Jewish girl sent to live in a safe house after the Nazi invasion of France. Edith's story is remarkable not only for her own bravery, but for the bravery of those that helped her: an entire village, including its mayor and citizenry, that heroically conspired to conceal the presence of hundreds of Jewish children who lived in the safe house. Intensively researched and sensitively written, this book both comforts and challenges a young reader's spirit, skillfully addressing both the horrors and the hope that children experienced during the Holocaust.

 

Kacer, Kathy.  The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser (Second Story Press, 2006).

The heroine, Gabi, recounts how as a young Jewish girl she lived on a family farm in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. She describes her community before the Nazi occupation and the events that unfolded afterwards. When the Nazis conducted house searches for Jewish children, Gabi successfully hid in the dining-room dresser. The only thing retrieved from the home after the war was the dresser that saved Gabi's life. It now sits in author Kathy Kacer's home in Toronto. Kacer is Gabi's daughter and has based the story on her mother's experiences.

 

Kacer, Kathy.  The Underground Reporters (Second Story Press, 2005).

In Budejovice, a quiet village in the Czech republic, laws and rules were introduced to restrict the freedom of Jewish people during the dark days of World War II. In a small shack on the small plot of land allocated to the village's Jewish youth, some brave young people decided to create a newspaper to show that despite the new dangers in their lives, they were still creative, energetic and adventurous. Though most of the village's Jews did not survive the war, copies of the newspaper did. The Underground Reporters chronicles how these youth held out hope for a peaceful world to come.

 

Kacer, Kathy.  Night Spies (Tandem Library, 2003).

The courage of righteous Gentiles and partisans during World War II creates a focal point for this account of Jews hiding from the Nazis in Czechoslovakia. Gabi, her mother, and her cousin are given sanctuary in a Christian family's farmhouse. Max has joined his relatives after walking 10 kilometers from his own village following his parents' murder by the Nazis. The cramped conditions are clearly described as are the risks taken by the family and the priest. Gabi and her family can only come out after dark, and readers can feel the difficulty and boredom of remaining quiet and hidden. This isolation provides the impetus for the two youngsters to sneak out in the night only to find a group of partisans in the forest, and the children become scouts for them. Many books have been written about the Holocaust, but there is appeal in Kacer's oft-exciting story and its focused depiction of the drudgery and risks faced by the Jews and anyone who helped to combat the Nazis' progress. Peopled by well-drawn characters, this is an engrossing novel inspired by experiences of Kacer's own family. Some of the history is presented in a heavy-handed way and seems to be superimposed on the story itself, but for the most part the book will appeal to fans of Lois Lowry's Number the Stars (Houghton, 1989). (Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ for School Library Journal).

 

Kerr, Judith.  When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Collins, 2002).

Anna was only nine years old in 1933, too busy with her school work and friends to take much notice of Adolf Hitler's face glaring out of political posters all over Berlin. Being Jewish, she thought, was just something you were because your parents and grandparents were Jewish. But then one day her father was unaccountably, frighteningly missing. Soon after, she and her brother, Max, were hurried out of Germany by their mother with alarming secrecy.  Reunited in Switzerland, Anna and her family embark on an adventure that would go on for years, in several different countries. They learn many new things: new languages, how to cope with the wildest confusions, and how to be poor. Anna soon discovers that there are special skills to being a refugee. And as long as the family stayed together, that was all that really mattered.

 

Kerr, M.E.  Slap Your Sides (HarperTeen, Reprint edition, 2003).

World War II is raging in Europe, but back home in Sweet Creek, Pennsylvania, Bud Shoemaker, a Quaker and a pacifist, has taken a one-man stand against the fight by declaring himself a conscientious objector. Fourteen-year-old Jubal sees his brother's choice as noble and brave, although most of the town (including Jubal's dream girl, Daria) sees Bud as a coward -- or worse. The line between right and wrong has become alarmingly blurred, and it won't be long before Jubal's family begins to buckle as it struggles to cope with the consequences of Bud's decision.

 

Kerr, M.E.  Gentlehands (HarperTeen, Reissue edition, 1990).

Buddy Boyle lives year-round with his family in unfashionable Seaville, New York, in a cramped little house on the bay. Skye Pennington spends the summers nearby on lavish estate complete with ocean view and a butler named Peacock.  But Skye and Buddy fall in love anyway. And every once in a while they visit Buddy's estranged grandfather, who makes them forget they're from opposite sides of town. Then a reporter appears, searching for a man known as Gentlehands, a man with a horrifying past. Who is Gentlehands? And what is his connection to Buddy's handsome, aristocratic grandfather? The mystery threatens to shatter Buddy and Skye's relationship, and change their lives forever. 

 

Kimmelman, Mira Ryczke.  Echoes from the Holocaust: A Memoir (University of Tennessee Press, 1996),

In 1939, 16-year-old Mira Ryczke was forced by Nazi troops to leave her childhood home in Poland for an uncertain future. In the next five and a half years, Ryczke, through the support of others, memories of her family and sheer luck, survived the Warsaw ghetto, three concentration camps and a death march. Her memoir is simply written and unflinchingly detailed: she recounts being tattooed for identification purposes; waking up in a freezing bunk to touch the cold hand of the girl next to her, who had died during the night; "composing" herself as she attempted to look strong enough to avoid being "selected for death." Ryczke (she married a fellow survivor, Max Kimmelman, in Bavaria and immigrated with him to the United States) decided to recount her life because the "dead cannot speak: they cannot be witnesses to the unspeakable horrors. I am their witness, and my years are numbered. I have to do it for them."  (Publisher's Weekly)

 

King, David C.  World War II Days (American Kids in History Series) (Jossey-Bass, 2000).
American Kids in HistoryDiscover Life in America During World War II with Dozens of Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes Travel back to 1942 and experience firsthand just how exciting and challenging life was for kids in America during World War II. Spend a year with the Donatos and the Andersens, two families working hard to make ends meet while still making time to have fun. Visit eleven-year-old Frank Donato in San Francisco and share in the thrilling sight of warships heading out to sea under the Golden Gate Bridge. Follow twelve-year-old Shirley Andersen through her family’s wheat farm in southern Minnesota as they prepare for the autumn harvest. Eager to share the fun, adventure, and hard work of their daily lives, Frank and Shirley will show you how to play their favorite games, make cool toys and crafts, and cook up the yummiest recipes! Create a toy periscope out of a cardboard mailing tube and two small pocket mirrors, cook up a delicious Coney Island hot dog, play the exciting game of Sea Battle, and keep track of the weather with a 3-D cloud chart. Packed with entertaining and easy projects, games, and recipes, World War II Days will take you on an exhilarating adventure into one of the most fascinating periods in American history.

 

Kochenderfer, Lee.  The Victory Garden (Yearling, 2003).

It’s 1943, and everyone says the war will be over soon–World War II, that is–but Teresa Marks wonders exactly when that day will come. Her older brother, Jeff, is fighting overseas, and Teresa worries about him, hoping he’ll get home to Kansas safely. As a way of speeding Jeff’s return, Teresa and her dad help the war effort by planting a victory garden. For two years, they’ve planted tomatoes (Jeff’s favorite!) and won taste-testing duels with a curmudgeonly neighbor. But this spring, when the neighbor is hospitalized, Teresa rallies her friends to tend to his garden. She even considers using her secret for growing better tomatoes on her rival’s plants. But her faith in secret weapons, in victory gardens, in people, and in life itself is shattered as the war rages on abroad and death strikes close to home.

 

Young Adult Fiction--Hahn to Hughes

Hahn, Mary Downing.  Following in My Own Footsteps (HarperTrophy, 1998).

As World War II rages in Europe, there are battles closer to home for sixth-grader Gordy, even after his physically and verbally abusive, alcoholic father is put behind bars. Gordy knows his family is a mess?as readers of Stepping on the Cracks will remember, his four younger siblings are like "puppies nobody'd bothered to train," one of his older brothers has deserted the Army, and his mother has become "dull and vacant." Still, the feisty protagonist is quick to defend them in front of his prim (and wealthy) grandmother when the family moves from Maryland into her house in North Carolina. Before long Gordy wonders if the new clothes and regular meals provided by his grandmother are enough to change his life?especially when his mother decides to give her husband a second chance. While some elements of the plot are predictable if not overdramatized, the complex characterizations, period setting and Gordy's brave attempts to break a cycle of violence will hold readers' interest. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Hahn, Mary Downing.  Stepping on the Cracks (HarperTrophy, Reprint, 1992).

Margaret and her best friend Elizabeth both have brothers fighting the war against Hitler and, like everyone else they know, they are filled with feelings of patriotism. But the girls are also involved in their own personal war at home.  Gordy Smith, the worst bully in sixth grade, teases and torments them, and Margaret is scared to death of him.  However, when Gordy and his pals Toad and Doug grow bolder than ever, Margaret and Elizabeth come up with a daring plan to get even. That's when the girls discover a shocking secret about Gordy that turns their lives upside-down and draws them into a startling confrontation with family, friends...and their own strongly held ideas.

 

Hest, Amy and Sonja Lamut (Illustrator).  Love You, Soldier (Candlewick, 2000).

Katie is just seven and her father is leaving, going to fight in a faraway war, and no one knows when he will come home again.  With Papa away, Katie and her mother do the best they can. Katie makes friends with Old Mrs. Leitstein downstairs. Mama's best friend Louise comes to visit, and then to stay, because her husband is fighting in the war, too, and Louise is going to have a baby.

One stormy day while Mama is at work, Louise says the baby is coming, and Katie helps her through the blizzard to the hospital. Mrs. Leitstein and Louise and her new baby come to seem almost like family to Katie. Then one day, a telegram man brings Mama an envelope with stars on it, and life will never be the same. Through Katie's keen and tender eyes, Amy Hest tells an intensely moving story about the changes war brings to one family.

 

Hoobler, Thomas and Dorothy Hoobler.  Aloha Means Come Back: The Story of a World War II Girl (Silver Burdett Press, 1993).

Laura and her mother join her Navy father in Hawaii in 1941, where suspicion against the Japanese American residents runs high in an atmosphere of expectation that the United States and Japan will go to war.

 


Holliday, Laurel.  Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries (Washington Square Press, 1996).

Diary entries written by young people in ghettos, concentration camps, cities, and a Copenhagen prison camp offer insightful comments and glimpses of life during World War II.  Each selection is introduced by a brief biography that includes the author's name, country, age, family circumstances before and during the war, and concludes with circumstances of death or postwar life. Nine girls and 14 boys, Jews and gentiles, aged 10 to 18, are featured. Teens should be interested in reading about the sexploits of Joan Wyndham, a 16-year-old London resident; her suburban neighbor, Colin Perry, 18, and his detailed recording of air raids; resistance fighter Hannah Senesh, 17; and Danish spy Kim Malthe-Brun, 18. (Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA for School Library Journal)

 

Homan, Lynn M. and Thomas Reilly.  Tuskegee Airmen Story (Pelican Publishing Company, 2002).

After two African American children find their grandfather's World War II uniform and medals, their grandmother encourages them to ask him about the war. He tells them about his experiences in the Tuskegee Airmen fighter group, the difficulties of living in a segregated society, and how the African Americans' contribution helped win the war abroad and the war against segregation at home. The authors, who also wrote Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen (2001) for adults, undoubtedly know their subject, though the presentation here is somewhat stilted. The fictional framework, with its sometimes-contrived questions adds little; however, the grandfather's narrative does a good job of explaining who the Tuskegee Airmen were and what they achieved. Similarly, the paintings of the children and grandparents that illustrate the present-day story are more stilted than those showing the Tuskegee Airmen and their world. Apparently the only book on this subject accessible to young children, this will be a useful addition to many school and public library collections. (Carolyn Phelan for Booklist)

 

Hostetter, Joyce Moyer.  Blue (Calkins Creek Books, 2006).

Thirteen-year-old Ann Fay always wanted to be just like her father, but when he gives her a pair of overalls before going off to fight Hitler, her feelings are mixed: "Wearing britches so I could take the place of my daddy wasn't the same as wearing them so I could climb trees." Minding the home front gets harder after she loses her youngest brother to a polio outbreak, then contracts the disease herself. Hostetter weaves her own North Carolina community's history into heartfelt fiction, marked by an agreeable, vernacular narrative and unobtrusive symbolism surrounding the color blue--the hue of both Ann Fay's overalls and the pesky wisteria vine that, like grown-up responsibility made palpable, threatens to overtake her victory garden. An incongruous structural rift mars the novel's latter half, set in the polio hospital, where the heart-tugging family drama gives way to a programmatic story line about an obstacle-laden friendship between Ann Fay and an African American patient. Still, the intriguing history of the illness and the powerful first-person voice will propel readers through to the novel's deeply satisfying conclusion.  (Jennifer Mattson for Booklist)

 

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki.  Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment (Bantam Books, 1983).

Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp--with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the  nation's #1 hit: "Don't Fence Me In." Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

 

Hughes, Dean.  Since You Went Away (Deseret Book Company, 2005).

Wally Thomas didn’t know how many days and nights he had been marching up the coast of the Bataan Peninsula.  He was almost too numb to think, too full of pain.  He tried to keep a steady pace, but the guards pressured the prisoners to keep moving, forced them close together, and in their exhaustion the men stumbled and knocked each other off stride.  When that happened, the extra effort was almost overwhelming; there were times when Wally though he would go down - and not get up - the way so many other prisoners had already done.  With each day getting worse in the Bataan death march, Wally could die of hunger, exposure, or even violence.  Will his growing faith be enough to pull him through?

Bobbi, now a nurse in the navy, meets a handsome young officer.  She’s not sure how she feels about him, however, or whether he feels anything at all for her. Alex is in training as a paratrooper, but can he stick it out?  And even if he can, how can he bring himself to fight the German people, whom he learned to love on his mission? Even young Gene knows he’ll be joining the service, but he wonders what kind of a soldier he’ll make.

 

Hughes, Dean.  Rumors of War (Deseret Book Company, 2005).

The elders could see nothing but smoke until they turned the corner onto the street where the fire was.  And then, both of them stopped.  "The synagogue!" Elder Thomas said.  It had never occurred to him that anyone - even the Nazis - would do such a thing.Elder Thomas got his camera out.  He snapped the shot but then heard someone say, in German, "What are you doing there?" He tucked the camera inside his coat, under his arm.  He tried to appear normal, but his heart was suddenly beating hard.  A man was crossing the narrow street and coming toward them. "Making pictures?" the man asked as he walked closer.  Elder Thomas took a better look.  He saw what he feared: the black uniform with silver trim and braided hat.  Gestapo. Elder Alex Thomas wants only to teach the gospel to the people of Germany.  But it soon becomes obvious that he will never complete his mission.  War is coming, and that will affect not only Elder Thomas but also his family back home in Salt Lake City.

 

Hughes, Dean.  Far from Home (Deseret Book Company, 2005).

All right, let’s go.  Alex saw terror in Howie’s eyes as he took off before Alex could. Howie ran hard, angling back and forth only a little, mostly just getting as far away as afast as he could. Alex was a faster runner, and he could make a few more zigs and zags in his path and still keep up. For a time, it all seemed unnecessary. The two were keeping away from the road, and no one else was nearby. But then bullets began to thump into the plowed ground around them, and suddenly Howie went down. In Far From Home, the third volume of Children of the Promise, Alex Thomas is still battling the Nazi forces. He’s also worried about whether or not he can preserve the lives of the men in his company, especially Howie, a particularly young and inexperienced soldier. But his biggest concern is staying alive for his wife, Anna, in England. In Japan, Wally is still a prisoner of war. Abused by his captors, he’s forced to work long hours in the coal mines. Will he learn from his experience, or will it just make him bitter? Or will he even survive? In Hawaii, Bobbi is hoping for word from her boyfriend, Richard. When she learns that his ship has gone down, she wonders is he’s gone down with it and as the days pass, the odds of his survival don’t look good. In Germany, Heinrich Stolz is working as a spy for British Intelligence. But as much as he can, he’s also looking for his missing son, Peter. When he loses his identification papers, he wonders if he can escape from Germany alive. On the home front, stake president Alexander Thomas is becoming wealthy from his weapons factory, which is actually being run by his wife, Bea. But their teenage daughter La Rue is asserting her independence more and more, and they’re not sure what to do about it. They’re also wondering if they’ll ever be together as a family again. Far From Home is a moving, powerful novel about the effects of adversity, and about the love of family members for each other. 

 

Hughes, Dean.  Children of Promise (Deseret Book Company, 2005).

The elders could see nothing but smoke until they turned the corner onto the street where the fire was. And then, both of them stopped. The synagogue! Elder Thomas said. It had never occurred to him that anyone, even the Nazis would do such a thing. Elder Thomas got his camera out. He snapped the shot but then heard someone say, in German, “What are you doing there?” He tucked the camera inside his coat, under his arm. He tried to appear normal, but his heart was suddenly beating hard. A man was crossing the narrow street and coming toward them.  “Making pictures?” the man asked as he walked closer. Elder Thomas took a better look. He saw what he feared: the black uniform with silver trim and braided hat. Gestapo. Elder Alex Thomas wants only to teach the gospel to the people of Germany. But it soon becomes obvious that he will never complete his mission. War is coming, and that will affect not only Elder Thomas but also his family back home in Salt Lake City. In the family is Wally, Elder Thomas’s younger brother, who usually just wants ot have a good time, but lately doesn’t seem to care much about anything. There’s his sister Bobbi, who is supposed to marry Phil Clark, the most eligible bachelor in the Salt Lake Valley. The problem is, she can’t ignore her attraction to Dr. Stinson, a University of Utah professor who’s not a member of the Church. And there are Elder Thomas’s parents, D. Alexander Thomas, stake president and his wife, Bea, who want their children to be true to the values and ideals they’ve taught them. But President and Sister Thomas are finding they can’t just tell their children what to do anymore, and they’re worried about what will happen when the United States enters a war that no one seems able to stop.

 

Hughes, Dean.  Soldier Boys (Simon Pulse, Reprint, 2003).

At the age of fifteen, Dieter's blind devotion gets him promoted from Hitler Youth into the German army. Dieter's determined to prove his allegiance and bravery all costs. Spence, just sixteen, drops out of his Utah high school to begin training as a paratrooper. Spence wants to prove to his friends and family that he really can be something. Dieter’s and Spence’s worst fear was that the war would end too soon—that they wouldn't get the chance to prove themselves. But when they finally see the action they were hoping for, it's like nothing they could have ever imagined. 

 

Hughes, Dean.  When We Meet Again (Deseret Book Company, 2001).

Following the Battle of the Bulge, Alex Thomas is reassigned — not without reluctance — to an intelligence unit in Germany. The new assignment challenges Alex's deepest moral values and is more life threatening than combat. As a POW in Japan, Wally suffers torture that may only find relief in death, while Bobbi sorts out her true feelings when she runs into Professor David Stinson thousands of miles away from home. 

As the Thomas siblings face new trials in this fourth installment of Dean Hughes's best-selling series, the tides of war appear to ebb as Germany falls to allied forces in Europe and Japan's grip on the Pacific is loosened by a new, extremely powerful weapon—the atomic bomb. Don't miss this exciting episode in the five-volume series. 

 

Hughes, Dean.  As Long As I Have You (Deseret Book Company, 2000).

In As Long As I Have You, the final volume of the Children of the Promise series, author Dean Hughes presents a moving picture of what life was like for an ordinary Latter Day Saints family at the end of World War II.

 

Young Adult Fiction--Elliot to Gruenewald

Elliot, L. M.  Under a War-Torn Sky (Hyperion Books, 2001).

After his plane is shot down by Hitler's Luftwaffe, nineteen-year-old Henry Forester of Richmond, Virginia, strives to walk across occupied France, with the help of the French Resistance, in hopes of rejoining his unit.

 

Fox, Anne and Eva Abraham-Podietz.  Ten Thousand Children: True Stories Told by Children Who Escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport (Behrman House Publishing, 1998).

The Kindertransport was a rescue operation that saved 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe between December 1938 and September 1939 and found homes for them in England. Only 1,000 of them ever saw their families again. Olga Levy Drucker's Kindertransport (1992) is one survivor's detailed story. The authors of this book were also Kinder who got away to England, and they have written a profoundly moving, accessible account that combines the history of the time with the first-person testimonies of 21 survivors. Each chapter begins with the big picture--life under Hitler, Kristallnacht, preparing to leave, the journey, life in England through the war years and afterward--and then includes brief vignettes by Kinder who remember how it was for them; finally, a brief note summarizes what happened to each child afterward. The design is like an open scrapbook, with different size typefaces, snapshots, news photos, and marginal notes; and the combination of the general overview with personal memories will bring readers, from middle grades through adult, close to the experience. These people escaped; the brutality is offstage, but the anguish is in the childhood details. What was it like to say good-bye to your parents, knowing you might never see them again? To arrive in a new country, learn a new language, and live with strangers? To discover after the war that your family was gone? Or to find your parents, leave your foster home, and try to be a family again? The authors' quiet final note is rooted in the survivors' stories: the Kinder have learned, among other things, to appreciate people's differences and to remember the kindness of strangers. (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)

 

Frank, Anne.  Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Bantam, Reprint edition, 1993).

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annex" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

 


Fraser, George MacDonald.  Quartered Safe out Here (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., New edition, 2000).

At the age of nineteen, the author saw nerve-wracking action during the British army's struggles against the Japanese in Burma, the last great land campaign of World War II. Fraser has now added to his rattling-good common soldier's memoir a substantial new afterword occasioned by the fiftieth anniversary of VJ-Day.

 

Gaeddert, LouAnn Bigge.  Friends and Enemies (Atheneum, 2000).

Jim and William quickly become friends. They share many classes, band, and lunch. On Saturdays, they often go fishing. Late in the autumn, they camp out, and Jim demonstrates astonishing courage. But when Pearl Harbor is bombed, war divides the town and destroys William's friendship with Jim. Caught up in the mood of patriotism that sweeps the country, William is eager to do whatever he can to support the war effort. Jim, a Mennonite pacifist, won't even sing patriotic songs, much less help the war effort by collecting scrap iron and newspapers. Clive's brother is fighting in the Pacific, but Jim's brothers refuse to carry guns. 

Although William's father, the Methodist minister, preaches tolerance, Plaintown's "patriotic Americans" harass their Mennonite neighbors, accusing them of cowardice and of sympathy for the enemy. William finds himself alone and isolated, distanced from Jim and Jim's Mennonite friends, yet unwilling to surrender to the demands of Clive and Clive's friends. Drastic changes within William's family add to his distress. This novel about friendship and courage explores the issue of pacifism against the backdrop of World War II. 

 

Giblin, James Cross. The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (Clarion Books, 2002).

Many people believe Hitler was the personification of evil. In this intriguing biography, James Cross Giblin penetrates this facade and presents a picture of a complex person at once a brilliant, influential politician and a deeply disturbed man. In a straightforward and non-sensational manner, the author explores the forces that shaped the man as well as the social conditions that furthered his rapid rise to power. Against a background of crucial historical events, Giblin traces the arc of Hitler's life: his childhood, his years as a frustrated artist in Vienna, his extraordinary rise as dictator of Germany, his final days in an embattled bunker under Berlin. Powerful archival images provide a haunting visual accompaniment to this clear and compelling account of a life that left an ineradicable mark on our world.

 

Giff, Patricia Reilly.  Lily's Crossing (Yearling Newberg, 1999).

Every summer Lily and her father go to her family's house in Rockaway, near the Atlantic Ocean.  But the summer of 1944 is different.  World War II has called Lily's father overseas, Lily's best friend Margaret had to move with her family to a wartime factory town, and Lily is forced to live with her grandmother.  But then a boy named Albert, a refugee from Hungary, comes to live in Rockaway.  He has lost most of his family to the war.  Soon he and Lily form a special friendship, and they have secrets to share.  But they have both told lies, and Lily's lie may cost Albert his life.

 

Glatshteyn, Yankev.  Emil and Karl (Roaring Brook Press, 2006).

Written in the form of a suspense novel, Emil and Karl draws readers into the dilemma faced by two young boys,one Jewish, the other not,when they suddenly find themselves without homes or families in Vienna on the eve of World War II. A taut, gripping page-turner, it offers a picture of life during the period and the moral challenges faced under Nazismand a prescient glimpse of the early days of the Holocaust. Written in Yiddish, it is here translated into English for the first time.

 

Gold, Alison Leslie. A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara : Hero of the Holocaust (Scholastic, 2000).

It's one of the great Holocaust rescue stories. Chiune Sugihara, Japanese consul in Lithuania, defied his government and personally wrote transit visas for about 6,000 desperate Jewish refugees, visas that allowed them to travel across Russia and escape the Nazis. Ken Mochizuki's Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story (1997) was an immediate account for younger readers but left them wanting to know more about the man and the history. Gold's biography fills in the details. She draws on interviews with Sugihara's wife and other witnesses. She also weaves in the stories of two Jewish refugee families. Unfortunately, the awkward, plodding style almost buries the drama. A map would also have helped: where exactly did the refugees go, and how did they get there? Still, the exciting facts will hold readers' interest in the heroic story of one man who did so much. A moving epilogue describes how, after years of grief and disgrace, Sugihara was finally honored in his own country and in Israel.  (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)

 

Greene, Bette.  Summer of My German Soldier (Puffin Modern Classics, Reissue, 2006).

Minutes before the train pulled into the station in Jenkinsville, Arkansas, Patty Bergen knew something exciting was going to happen. But she never could have imagined that her summer would be so memorable. German prisoners of war have arrived to make their new home in the prison camp in Jenkinsville. To the rest of her town, these prisoners are only Nazis. But to Patty, a young Jewish girl with a turbulent home life, one boy in particular becomes an unlikely friend. Anton relates to Patty in ways that her mother and father never can. But when their forbidden relationship is discovered, will Patty risk her family and town for the understanding and love of one boy?  

 

Greenfeld, Howard.  The Hidden Children (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

Over a million Jewish children were killed during the Holocaust. From ten thousand to 100 thousand Jewish children were hidden with strangers and survived. In this powerful and compelling work, 25 people share their experiences as hidden children. Black-and-white photos.

 

Gruenewald, Mary Matsuda.  Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps (New Sage, 2005).

In 1941, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald was a teenage girl who, like other Americans, reacted with horror to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Yet soon she and her family were among 110,000 innocent people imprisoned by the U.S. government because of their Japanese ancestry. In this eloquent memoir, she describes both the day-to-day and the dramatic turning points of this profound injustice: what is was like to face an indefinite sentence in crowded, primitive camps; the struggle for survival and dignity; and the strength gained from learning what she was capable of and could do to sustain her family. It is at once a coming-of-age story with interest for young readers, an engaging narrative on a topic still not widely known, and a timely warning for the present era of terrorism. Complete with period photos, the book also brings readers up to the present, including the author's celebration of the National Japanese American Memorial dedication in 2000.

 

Young Adult Fiction--Bruning to Dowswell

Bruning, John Robert, Jr.  Elusive Glory: African-American Heroes of World War II (Avisson Press Inc., First edition, 2001).

The premise of this slim volume is that African-American men who fought for the U.S. during World War II struggled against immense odds to overcome institutional prejudice and pave the way for a future desegregated military. Fifteen individuals who served in the ground forces or were pilots in the air corps are profiled. The best-known figure is Ben Davis, Jr., who flew scores of combat missions with the Tuskegee Red Tails. Short chapters show how each of these individuals contributed during their actual time in combat rather than covering their entire lives. Through introductions to the two sections and an epilogue, Bruning ties these stories together to emphasize a greater message. These men exemplified courage in fighting for a country that had not yet recognized them as equal members but would later honor them for their bravery and sacrifice. They were pioneers in getting the U.S. government to change the face of our fighting forces to represent Americans of all backgrounds-based on merit, not ethnicity.  (Janet Woodward for School Library Journal)

 

Butterworth, Emma Macalik.  As the Waltz Was Ending (Scholastic Press, 1985).

An autobiographical account of a young girl whose ballet career with the Vienna State Opera was interrupted by the invasion of the Nazis and who later had to fight for her life during the Russian occupation.

 

Carter, Walter Ford and Terry Golway.  No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love: A Son's Journey to Normandy (Smithsonian Books, 2004).

Walter Ford Carter's father, a family doctor, died during World War II in Normandy when the author was four years old and his brother seven. His mother Fernie was devastated. She never remarried and didn't speak about her husband, Norval Carter. Walter Ford grew up in West Virginia knowing his father as 'a smiling face behind glass ... forever thirty-two years old.' He rightly calls war widows like his mother 'uncelebrated heroes of that celebrated age.'

 

Charlesworth, Monique.  The Children’s War (Knopf, 2005).

This is the story of two children caught in the midst of war. It is 1939 and thirteen-year-old Ilse, half-Jewish, has been sent out of Germany by her Aryan mother to a place of supposed safety. Her journey takes her from the labyrinthine bazaars of Morocco to Paris, a city made hectic at the threat of Nazi invasion. At the same time in Germany, Nicolai, a boy miserably destined for the Nazi Youth movement, finds comfort in the friendship of Ilse’s mother, the nursemaid hired to take care of his young sister. Gripping and poignant, The Children’s War is a stunning novel of wartime lives, of parents and children, of adventure and self-discovery.

 

Childress, Mark.  V for Victor (Random House Publishing Group, 1998).

Alabama, 1942. The war is everywhere, but Victor—a sixteen-year old boy sent by his father to care for his dying grandmother on a lonely island in Mobile Bay—can only dream of it. Then he wakes one amazing night to a thunderous roar from the Bay, and watches as a thug burns his boat. He also discovers a decomposing corpse, witnesses a near-seduction . . . and sees the ominous shadow of an enemy submarine surfacing at night.

 

Coerr, Eleanor.  Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Putnam Juvenile, Reissue edition, 1999).

Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic--the star of her school's running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the "atom bomb disease," Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Recalling a Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan.

 

Cooper, Susan.  Dawn of Fear (Harcourt Paperbacks, 2007).

Derek and his friends, living outside of London during World War II, regard the frequent air raids with more fascination than fear--after all, they can barely remember a time without them. The boys are thrilled when school is canceled for a few days due to a raid, giving them time to work on their secret camp. But when their camp is savagely attacked by a rival gang from the neighborhood, the harsh reality of the violence surrouding them suddenly crashes down upon Derek and his friends—and a long night of bombing changes his feelings about the war forever.

 

Cormier, Robert.  Heroes (Laurel Leaf, 2000).

Francis Joseph Cassavant is eighteen. He has just returned home from the Second World War, and he has no face. He does have a gun and a mission: to murder his childhood hero. Francis lost most of his face when he fell on a grenade in France. He received the Silver Star for bravery, but was it really an act of heroism? Now, having survived, he is looking for a man he once admired and respected, a man adored by many people, a man who also received a Silver Star for bravery. A man who destroyed Francis's life.

 

Cormier, Robert.  Other Bells for Us to Ring (Laurel Leaf, 2000).

Darcy is having a tough time. Her father is missing in action, her mother retreats into migraines and silence, and her best friend Kathleen Mary disappears overnight. Also, Darcy, a Unitarian, has a crisis of faith that she attempts to resolve with a secret visit to an elderly, miracle-wielding Catholic nun. While Cormier effectively evokes the streets and tenements of Darcy's World War II Frenchtown, the characters he places there never come to life. Flat and two-dimensional, they fail to engage readers' sensibilities. The most "alive" vignettes in this low-key title are the most sensational--the suicide leap of a disturbed young woman and the violent outbursts of Kathleen Mary's alcoholic father stand out with shocking clarity. The least affecting moments are those that are supposed to be the most touching; Darcy's visit with the elderly, dying nun and the return of her father are so understated they elicit little or no sympathetic response. As Darcy's voice does not mesh with her characterization as an 11-year-old innocent, it is never bright enough to light the dark environs in which Cormier places her. The news of Kathleen Mary's death and the "miracle of the bells" that accompanies it have no spiritual resonance--there is little in the characterization or plot to make this Christmas miracle real for readers. Kathleen Mary's climactic miracle message to Darcy is unfortunately unbelievable, and, symptomatic of this book, without emotional impact.  (Janice M. Del Negro, Chicago Public Library for Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Davies, Jacqueline.  Where the Ground Meets the Sky (Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2004).

Twelve-year-old Hazel Moore and her mother arrive at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to be reunited with her physicist father. It is 1944, and war is raging on five continents. Hazel doesn't know why her family has come to this mysterious, remote place. She doesn't know what her father is working on, night and day, in the secret laboratory. But she's determined to find out. Will she be able to uncover the mystery of Los Alamos? And how will the secrets of this place change her family forever?

 

Denenberg, Barry.  Early Sunday Morning: The Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows, Hawaii 1941 (Scholastic, 2003).

In her diary, twelve-year-old Amber describes moving to Hawaii in 1941 and experiencing the horror of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

 

Denenberg, Barry.  One Eye Laughing, The Other Weeping (Scholastic, 2000).

During the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Austria, twelve-year-old Julie escapes to America to live with her relatives in New York City.

 

Denenberg, Barry.  The Journal of Ben Uchida (Scholastic, 1999).

Twelve-year-old Ben Uchida keeps a journal of his experiences as a prisoner in a Japanese internment camp in Mirror Lake, California, during World War II.

 

Dillon, Elis.  Children of Bach (Faber and Faber Ltd., 1995).

Dillon, a prolific Irish author, uses the backdrop of WW II Budapest to stage a riveting drama about Jewish children who escape the Nazis. Peter, only 14, finds himself in charge of his younger brother and sister and the sister's friend when they come home from school and discover that their parents, famous musicians, have been arrested by the Nazis along with other Jews in the community. Aware of the perils that loom over them, the children at first seek refuge in music as they puzzle out their options. But when their Aunt Eva miraculously returns (she's outwitted her would-be captors), they enlist the help of a neighbor and hatch a daring plan. Courage coexists with human vulnerability, while the ironies of the title are exploited subtly and to excellent effect. Dillon may fail to suggest the extent of Jewish suffering at the hands of Germans and indifferent Hungarians--the enemy here is rather too easily deceived, the neighbors all willing to risk their own lives, the children all but unaffected by the disappearance and probable death of their parents--but she sustains the suspense so well and engenders such concern for her characters that their plight assumes paramount importance for the reader as well.  (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Dowswell, Paul.  True Stories of the Second World War (Usborne, November 2003).

Recounting the stories of some of the most heroic, devastating and pivotal moments of World War II, this book gives young readers a strong sense of the suffering, but also the bravery involved in the war with an approachable insight into this conflict.

 

Young Adult Fiction--Ambrose to Bruchac


Ambrose, Stephen E.  The Good Fight : How World War II Was Won (Atheneum, 2001).

Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the finest historians of our time, has written an extraordinary chronicle of World War II for young readers. From Japanese warplanes soaring over Pearl Harbor, dropping devastation from the sky, to the against-all-odds Allied victory at Midway, to the Battle of the Bulge during one of the coldest winters in Europe's modern history, to the tormenting decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic weapons, The Good Fight brings the most horrific—and most heroic—war in history to a new generation in a way that's never been done before. In addition to Ambrose's accounts of major events during the war, personal anecdotes from the soldiers who were fighting on the battlefields, manning the planes, commanding the ships—stories of human triumph and tragedy—bring the war vividly to life.

 

Auerbacker, Inge.  I Am a Star: Child of the Holocaust (Puffin, 1993).

This account of one girl's Holocaust experience is rich for its interweaving of autobiography and historical data. At age six, Auerbacher was forced to wear the yellow star that set her apart. Then she was sent to the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Fifteen thousand children entered that camp, but only a hundred exited alive. And of more than 1000 people who arrived with Auerbacher, only 15 survived. It's a moving story supported by well-preserved wartime photographs and Bernbaum's harsh, spare drawings. The author's ability to survive is linked to her later capacity to translate hardship and tragedy into poetry of hope and perseverance. Her perspective, while chilling, pierces the heart with memorable imagery, such as envying the birds, which are free to fly away from the camp. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Avi.  Don’t You Know There’s A War On? (HarperTrophy, 2003).

World War II is on everyone's mind and in every headline, and Howie Crispers has a hunch that his school principal is a spy. With a little snooping around, Howie finds out something even more alarming. Principal Lomister may not be a spy, but he is plotting to get rid of Howie's favorite teacher. Howie's dad is fighting Nazis overseas, and his mom is working hard to support the war effort, so Miss Gossim is the only person Howie can depend on. With the help of his friends, and a plan worthy of radio show superhero Captain Midnight, Howie intends to save Miss Gossim!

 

Ayer, Eleanor H.  Parallel Journeys (Aladdin, 2000).

She was a young German Jew.  He was an ardent member of the Hitler Youth. This is the story of their parallel journey through World War II.  Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck were born just a few miles from each other in the German Rhineland. But their lives took radically different courses: Helen's to the Auschwitz extermination camp; Alfons to a high rank in the Hitler Youth. While Helen was hiding in Amsterdam, Alfons was a fanatic believer in Hitler's "master race." While she was crammed in a cattle car bound for the death camp Auschwitz, he was a teenage commander of frontline troops, ready to fight and die for the glory of Hitler and the Fatherland. This book tells both of their stories, side-by-side, in an overwhelming account of the nightmare that was WWII. The riveting stories of these two remarkable people must stand as a powerful lesson to us all.

 

Bachrach, Susan.  Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust (Little, Brown Young Readers, 1994).

One and a half million children and teenagers were murdered by the Nazis. This photo-history, produced in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, focuses on what happened to young people whose world of family and friends, school and play, was destroyed. More than 30 short, accessible chapters cover the general history, including the rise of Hitler, the ghettos, the transports, the camps, the gas chambers, and the movements of resistance and rescue. Sidebars tell the ongoing stories of individual young people and show their ID photos; some of the individuals are pictured several times during the period 1933-45, but many don't survive. The writing is direct, with no histrionics or gimmicks. A wealth of material drawn from the museum's large collection of photographs and taped oral and video histories supports the facts. The systematic murder is confronted here. We're told of the brutality, the medical experiments, and the corpses stacked up like cordwood, and there are pictures of the death marches and the gas chambers. The Jews were the main target of Nazi hatred, but throughout the book, Bachrach also talks about other groups and individualsincluding Gypsies, homosexuals, and the disabledwho were marked as enemies of the state. The book's design is clear, with a spacious chronology at the back, a long bibliography, subdivided by genre and reading level, and an appendix of population figures by country. This is one of the best books available for introducing the subject to young people and an excellent text for the Holocaust curriculum now required in many states.  (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)

 

Bawden, Nina.  Carrie’s War (Heinemann Educational Publishers, New edition, 1975).

Carrie’s War is an excellent book, with alot of charm.  It starts with young Carrie being evacuated to Wales with her brother during the WW II. While there, she meets such wonderful characters as Hepzibah Green, Johnny Gotobed, Albert Sandwich and "Auntie Lou". While under the strict mister Evans constant supervision, how will they do out there? And what terrible thing is it that Carrie did that she regrets for the rest of her life?

 

Begley, Louis.  Wartime Lies  (Knopf, 1991).

Fleeing Nazi persecution of the Jews, a Polish boy and his aunt construct a pattern of lies and deceptions to save their lives--and are forever changed.

 

Bergman, Tamar.  Along the Tracks (Houghton Mifflin,1995).

"Readers are exposed to a compellingly authentic picture of life in the likes of Tashkent and Samarkand during the war - a cruel world where the state effectively abandoned homeless children, but where some remnants of kindness and humanity survived. This is a gripping, evocative story."

 

Birenbaum, Halina.  Hope is the Last to Die (M.E. Sharpe, 1996).

This book is an important work in Holocaust literature and was originally published in Poland in 1967. Covering the years 1939-1945, it is the author's account of her experience growing up in the Warsaw ghetto and her eventual deportation to, imprisonment in, and survival of the Majdanek, Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and Neustadt-Glewe camps. Since the old, the weak, and children were summarily executed by the Nazis in these camps, Mrs Birenbaum's survival and coming of age is all the more remarkable. Her story is told with simplicity and clarity and the new edition contains revisions made by the author to the original English translation, and is expanded with a new epilogue and postscripts that bring the story up to date and complete the circle of Mrs Birenbaum's experiences.

 

Bitton-Jackson, Livia.  I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust (Simon Pulse, Reprint edition, 1999).

In a graphic present-tense narrative, this Holocaust memoir describes what happens to a Jewish girl who is 13 when the Nazis invade Hungary in 1944. She tells of a year of roundups, transports, selections, camps, torture, forced labor, and shootings, then of liberation and the return of a few.  Horrifying as her experience is, she doesn't dwell on the atrocities. There is hope here. Unlike many adult survivor stories, this does not show the victims losing their humanity. The teenager and her mother help each other survive; they save each other from the gas chambers. Even in the slaughter of the cattle trucks strafed by machine-gun fire, "words of comfort emerge from every corner." The occasional overwriting about "drowning in a morass of pain and helplessness" is unfortunate. The facts need no rhetoric. On every page they express her intimate experience. After the war, the teenager finds her brother, hears how her father died. She wonders whether she dare enjoy the luxury of being a girl, of "having hair." A final brief chronology of the Holocaust adds to the value of this title for curriculum use with older readers. (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)

 

Boas, Jacob.  We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries Of Teenagers Who Died In The Holocaust (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1996).

Jewish teenagers David, Yitzhak, Moshe, Eva, and Anne all kept diaries and were all killed in Hitler's death camps. These are their stories, in their own words. Author Jacob Boas is a Holocaust survivor who was born in the same camp to which Anne Frank was sent. Includes a photo insert.

 

Booth, Martin.  War Dog (Margaret K. McElderry, First United States Edition, 1997).

After her owner is arrested while poaching, Jet is requisitioned by the British Army and sees duty on the beach at Dunkirk, searching for survivors of Germany's bombing raids on English cities, and in Italy at the end of the war.

 

Borden, Louise.  The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).

In 1940, Hans and Margret Rey fled their Paris home as the German army advanced. They began their harrowing journey on bicycles, pedaling to Southern France with children's book manuscripts among their few possessions. Louise Borden combed primary resources, including Hans Rey's pocket diaries, to tell this dramatic true story. Archival materials introduce readers to the world of Hans and Margret Rey while Allan Drummond dramatically and colorfully illustrates their wartime trek to a new home. Follow the Rey's amazing story in this unique large format book that resembles a travel journal and includes full-color illustrations, original photos, actual ticket stubs and more. A perfect book for Curious George fans of all ages.

 

Boyne, John.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (David Fickling Books, 2006).

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

 

 

Brady, Laurel.  Say You Are My Sister (HarperCollins, 2000).

In rural Georgia during World War II, twelve-year-old Ramona Louise determines to do everything to help her beloved older sister Georgie keep the family together after the death of their parents, even to keeping a secret which could destroy their close relationship.

 

Bruchac, Joseph.  Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two (Puffin, 2006).

The United States is at war, and sixteen-year-old Ned Begay wants to join the cause—especially when he hears that Navajos are being specifically recruited by the Marine Corps. So he claims he’s old enough to enlist, breezes his way through boot camp, and suddenly finds himself involved in a top-secret task, one that’s exclusively performed by Navajos. He has become a code talker. Now Ned must brave some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with his native Navajo language as code, send crucial messages back and forth to aid in the conflict against Japan. His experiences in the Pacific—from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima and beyond—will leave him forever changed.

 

Adult Fiction--Walbert to Young

Walbert, Kate.  The Gardens of Kyoto (Virago Press, New edition, 2002).

In a mesmerizing debut novel of romance and grief, a woman looks back on her coming of age in the long shadow of World War II and tells about the death of her favorite cousin, Randall, at Iwo Jima. When Ellen receives a package containing Randall's diary and a book called The Gardens of Kyoto, her bond to him is cemented and the mysteries of his short life starts to unravel.

 

Walkins, Paul.  Forger (Picador USA, 2001).

On the eve of World War II, David Halifax, a young American painter, receives a scholarship to come to Paris and work under the tutelage of the mysterious Russian artist Alexander Pankratov. But as Nazi forces encroach, Halifax realizes the true purpose of his visit: to forge masterworks of the Paris museums, and with the aid of a wily art trader, barter the fakes to Hitler's legion of art dealers. What develops is a riveting cat-and-mouse game that moves through Paris's silent streets, through the tunnels beneath its museums, and eventually into the war-torn countryside of Normandy.

 

Wallner, Michael.  April in Paris (Doubleday Publishing, 2007).

A suspenseful and dramatic story of impossible love between a German soldier and a French Resistance fighter in World War Two Paris.In 1943, Michel Roth is a young soldier working in the German army’s back offices in occupied Paris. But his fluency in French gets Roth a new task when the Gestapo find themselves in need of a translator for the confessions of interrogated French resisters.

After work Roth chooses another path – he slips out of his hotel carrying a bag of civilian clothes and steals into an alley where he changes personas, becoming Monsieur Antoine, a young Frenchman. He strolls the streets of Paris, where one day he meets Chantal, daughter of an antiquarian bookseller. They fall in love, and when Chantal warns him away from the notorious café Turachevsky, favoured nightspot for German officers and the French women who entertain them, Michel believes it is out of jealousy. Too late he discovers that she is a member of the Resistance, and his naiveté leaves Michel on the other side of the SS interrogation machine. What follows is a tale of desperate cat and mouse through Paris, and into the devastated French countryside at the end of the war, when neighbours are quick to betray neighbours, and even to take revenge into their own hands. 

 

Walsh, Michael.  As Time Goes By (Grand Central Publishing 1998).

The story of the four men and one woman of "Casablanca" continues in this mesmerizing tale of wartime adventure and intrigue. The questions that "Casablanca" left hanging are finally answered.

 

Wander, Fred.  The Seventh Wall (W.W. Norton,  2007).

He grew up on the street, a high school dropout. In 1938 he left his mother and sister behind in Vienna and fled on foot to France, where later he was put on a train to Auschwitz. Transported from camp to camp, Fred Wander was haunted for twenty-five years by the crystalline, episodic stories that chronicle the plight of his fellow inmates. Only after the tragic death of his little daughter did these voices pour forth. The result was this novel, published in East Germany in 1970. Finally it appears in English in this masterful translation, its haunting cadences evoking Levi and Celan, its backstory as heartrending as Suite Française. Wander demonstrates that the survival of a single man is a collaborative enterprise. The Seventh Well, named after the well of truth, recalls Dante's Inferno with its mesmerizing descent into evil. Its existence is a miracle.

 

Warren, Andrea.  Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps (Scholastic, 2002).

What was the secret to surviving the death camps? How did you keep from dying of heartbreak in a place of broken hearts and broken bodies? "Think of it as a game, Jack," an older prisoner tells him. "Play the game right and you might outlast the Nazis." Caught up in Hitler's Final Solution to annihilate Europe's Jews, fifteen-year-old Jack is torn from his family and thrown into the nightmarish world of the concentration camps.

Despite intolerable conditions, Jack resolves not to hate his captors, and vows to see his family again. He forges friendships with other prisoners, and together they struggle to make it one more hour, one more day. But even with his strong will to live, can Jack survive the life-and-death game he is forced to play with his Nazi captors? 

 

Water, Sarah.  The Night Watch (Riverhead Trade, Reprint, 2006).

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners-three women and a young man with a past-whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.

 

Waugh, Evelyn.  Men at Arms (Penguin Books Ltd, New edition, 2001).

Men at Arms is the first volume of Evelyn Waugh's masterful WW II trilogy about war, religion and politics. It is followed by Officers and Gentlemen and The End of the Battle.  Meet Guy Crouchback, a 35-year-old divorced Catholic. Though the armed services really don't want him, he manfully succeeds in joining the Royal Corps of Halberdiers. There he meets Apthorpe, an eccentric African who is devoted to his "thunderbox" (aka chemical closet). Together they make quite a team. 

 

Waugh, Evelyn.  Officers and Gentlemen (Back Bay Books, Reissue edition, 1979).

Portrays the events of the Second World War as seen through the jaded and melancholy eyes of Guy Crouchback, a middle-aged civilian who joins the Halberdiers, a venerable British army regiment, at the start of the fighting.

 

Waugh, Evelyn.  The End of the Battle (Back Bay Books, Reissue edition, 1979).

The end of WW II finds Guy Crouchback, once again in England, radiating despair from behind his desk.  But then his training as a commando and his facility with Italian land him one last assignment—liaison work, not in Italy, but with Tito's forces in Yugoslavia.

 

Waugh, Evelyn.  Put Out More Flags (Little Brown Company, 1977).

This comic novel of life in Britain during the early days of the Second World War is set mainly among the fashionable demimonde of aristocratic London. It portrays a society thrown into a mild upheaval by the prospect of imminent ruin and death, but not quite unhinged enough to lose sight of who does and does not belong in the best regiments and clubs. For many, the new openness brought on by the enforced mixing of classes within military life marks the end of an era. But for the clever and the unscrupulous, like the ne'er-do-well Basil Seal, it is the moment they have waited for all their lives.

 

Webb, James.  Emperor’s General (Bantam Books, 2000).

Jay Marsh, Wall Street millionaire and grand old man of the diplomatic corps, takes a sentimental journey to the scene of his first triumphs and agonies, Manila, where as a brash young captain during World War Two he served as aide-de-camp and confidant to General Douglas MacArthur. Now, as the senior statesmen stands in the serene garden of the ambassador's residence, his mind reels back in time..." "In the final days of the war in the Pacific, the Philippines are retaken by the Allies under the command of General MacArthur, paving the way for Japan's surrender. MacArthur enlists Captain Marsh to be his emissary to the imperial government, a mission that takes the junior officer into the shadow world of postwar Tokyo. As Marsh undertakes the delicate task of opening a dialogue with the emperor, he becomes ensnared in a web of deceit, witnesses a grave injustice, commits a life-altering act of betrayal - and discovers shocking truths about MacArthur the world was never meant to know.

 

Weil, Jiri.  Mendelssohn Is on the Roof (Northwestern University Press, 1998).

On the roof of Prague's concert hall, Julius Schlesinger, aspiring SS officer, is charged with the removal of the statue of the Jew Mendelssohn--but which one is he? Remembering his course on "racial science," Schlesinger instructs his men to pull down the statue with the biggest nose. Only as the statue topples does he recognize the face of Richard Wagner. This is just the beginning in Weil's novel, which traces the transformation of ordinary lives in Nazi-occupied Prague.

 

Wellum, Geoffrey. First Light (Wiley, 2001)

In First Light, Geoffrey Wellum tells the inspiring, often terrifying true story of his coming of age amid the roaring, tumbling dogfights of the fiercest air war the world had ever seen. It is the story of an idealistic schoolboy who couldn’t believe his luck when the RAF agreed to take him on as a "pupil pilot" at the minimum age of seventeen and a half in 1939. In his fervor to fly, he gave little thought to the coming war. 

 

Wescott, Glenway.  Apartment in Athens (New York Review Books Classics, 2004).

Like Wescott's extraordinary novella The Pilgrim Hawk (which Susan Sontag described in The New Yorker as belonging "among the treasures of 20th-century American literature"), Apartment in Athens concerns an unusual triangular relationship. In this story about a Greek couple in Nazi-occupied Athens who must share their living quarters with a German officer, Wescott stages an intense and unsettling drama of accommodation and rejection, resistance and compulsion—an account of political oppression and spiritual struggle that is also a parable about the costs of closeted identity.

 

Westheimer, David.  Death is Lighter than a Feather (University of North Texas Press, 1995). 

On May 25, 1945, while American and Japanese forces on Okinawa were locked in bitter struggle, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff sent out plans for an amphibious invasion which would subjugate Japan. "Operation Olympic" was to seize Kyushu, while "Operation Coronet" was to strike directly against the Tokyo area. Westheimer's meticulously researched novel about this plan startled readers in the 1970's. Reviews and comments about the original: " . . . one begins to understand the Japanese and to feel nearly the same relief when the wish to die for the emperor is full satisfied...[They] appear in the same variety as the Americans, as sensitive or obtuse, as rustics or academics . . . Westheimer has admirably fulfilled his intention, dramatizing Sherman's utterance that war is hell."  (Paul Theroux for Book World)

 

Westheimer, David.  Von Ryan's Express (Signet Books, 1970).

A thousand British and American POWs learn to hate the American colonel who singlehandedly shapes them up. His strict discipline brings order to the camp; it also earns him a derisive "von." When Italy surrenders, German guards herd the men into boxcars for shipment to the Reich. Ryan has other ideas. He reckons to take the train to Switzerland, and freedom.

 

Wheatley, Dennis.  They Used Dark Forces (Arrow Books, Re-issue, 1974).

In June, 1943, Gregory Sallust parachutes into Nazi Germany. His mission is to penetrate the secrets of Hitler's "V" rockets. But before he can reach his objective, he becomes unwillingly involved with Ibrahim Malacou--hypnotist, astrologer and disciple of Satan. It is the beginning of a long and uneasy partnership sustained by a common hatred of the enemy—Hitler.

 

Wilson, Robert.  The Company of Strangers (Harcourt, 2002).

The stifling summer streets of Lisbon are teeming with spies and informers when Andrea Aspinall, an English mathematician turned spy, disappears under a new identity. Military attaché Karl Voss, experienced in the illusions of intrigue, arrives in Lisbon under the German Legation, though he is secretly working against the Nazis so that atomic and rocket technology do not find their way into Hitler's hands.  In the lethal tranquility of a corrupted paradise Andrea and Karl meet and attempt to find love. Tragically, a night of violence leaves Andrea the keeper of a secret that triggers a lifelong addiction to the clandestine world. From Portugal to England and finally Cold War Berlin, she gradually discovers that the deepest secrets aren't held by governments, but by those closest to you.


Wilson, Robert.  A Small Death in Lisbon (Berkley, Reissue edition, 2002).

Winner of the prestigious Gold Dagger Award in the U.K. for the best mystery of 1999, this complex literary thriller may be one of the most satisfying suspense novels to come along in some time. Robert Wilson has written several political thrillers, most of which are set in West Africa, but they are, alas, largely unavailable in the U.S.  In A Small Death in Lisbon, the narrative switches back and forth between 1941 and 1999, and Wilson's wide knowledge of history and keen sense of place make the eras equally vibrant. In 1941 Germany, Klaus Felsen, an industrialist, is approached by the SS high command in a none-too-friendly manner and is "persuaded" to go to Lisbon and oversee the sale--or smuggling--of wolfram (also known as tungsten, used in the manufacture of tanks and airplanes). World War II Portugal is neutral where business is concerned, and too much of the precious metal is being sold to Britain when Germany needs it to insure that Hitler's blitzkrieg is successful.  The reader is treated to a wonderful portrait of Lisbon in the aftermath of the 1974 revolution that ousted Salazar from power, and the scars from that conflict are still close to the surface for the citizens of Lisbon, including Coehlo and his colleagues. We also see World War II in a slightly different manner from that to which we are accustomed—through the eyes of the Germans and the Portuguese. (Amazon.com)

 

Wharton, William.  A Midnight Clear (New Market Press, New edition, 1996).

A tale of youth and war set in the Ardennes Forest on Christmas Eve, 1944. Ordered close to the German lines to establish an observation post in an abandoned chateau, six GIs play at being soldiers in what seems to be complete isolation. That is, until they meet the enemy.

 

White, Herman.  Harm’s Way (Signet, Reprint edition, 1997).

A regular Naval officer in the Pacific theater is assigned to command a "backwater" operation to seize a group of strategic islands from the Japanese, and has almost as much trouble from an entrenched and interfering area commander as from the enemy.

 

Willard, Tom.  Wings of Honor (Forge Books, 2000).

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Augustus Sharps, Jr., of the Sabre Ranch in Arizona, makes his way to Tuskegee, Alabama, where for the first time in history, black men are being trained as combat pilots to fight the war in Europe and the Pacific.Augustus's family has been fighting America's wars since his grandfather rode with Buffalo Soldiers against the Apaches, and since his father fought in Cuba 1898 and in the trenches of the Western Front in World War I, and he is determined to follow their footsteps.Wings of Honor is the poignant and exciting story of a young man battling the odds to fly with the "Red-Tail Angels," the 99th U.S. Pursuit Squadron, and how he added to his family's honor in battles over North Africa, Sicily, and France, in the fury of the Second World War.

 

Wouk, Herman.  The Cain Mutiny (Back Bay Books, Reprint, 1992).

The novel was awarded the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Caine Mutiny grew out of Wouk's experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific in World War II. The novel focuses on Willie Keith, a rich New Yorker assigned to the USS Caine, who gradually matures during the course of the book. But the work is best known for its portrayal of the neurotic Captain Queeg, who becomes obsessed with petty infractions at the expense of the safety of ship and crew. Cynical, intellectual Lieutenant Tom Keefer persuades loyal Lieutenant Steve Maryk that Queeg's bizarre behavior is endangering the ship; Maryk reluctantly relieves Queeg of command. Much of the book describes Maryk's court-martial and its aftermath. The unstable Queeg eventually breaks down completely.  (The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature)

 

Wouk, Herman.  The Winds of War (Little, Brown and Company, 1971).

The story revolves around a mixture of real and fictional characters, all connected in some way to the extended family of Victor "Pug" Henry, a middle-aged Naval Officer and confidant of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The story begins six months before Germany's invasion of Poland, which begins the European portion of the war, and ends shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the United States and, by extension, the Henry family, enters the war as well.

 

Wouk, Herman.  War and Remembrance (Little, Brown and Company, 1978).

War and Remembrance, published in 1978, is the sequel to The Winds of War. It continues the story of the extended Henry family and the Jastrow family starting on 15 December 1941 and ending on 6 August 1945.

 

Yamamoto, Hisaye.  Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories (Rutgers University Press, 2001).

Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories bring together fifteen stories that span Hisaye Yamamoto's forty-year career. It was her first book to be published in the United States. Yamamoto's themes include the cultural conflicts between the first generation, the Issei and their children, the Nisei; coping with prejudice; and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.

 

Young, Sara.  My Enemy’s Cradle (Harcourt, 2008).

Cyrla's neighbors have begun to whisper. Her cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the rigorous exams for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies. But Anneke's soldier has disappeared, and Lebensborn babies are only ever released to their father's custody—or taken away.  A note is left under the mat. Someone knows that Cyrla, sent from Poland years before for safekeeping with her Dutch relatives, is Jewish. The Nazis are imposing more and more restrictions; she won't be safe there for long.

And then in the space of an afternoon, life falls apart. Cyrla must choose between certain discovery in her cousin's home and taking Anneke's place in the Lebensborn-- Cyrla and Anneke are nearly identical. If she takes refuge in the enemy's lair, can Cyrla fool the doctors, nurses, guards, and other mothers-to-be? Can she escape before they discover she is not who she claims?  Mining a lost piece of history, Sara Young takes us deep into the lives of women living in the worst of times. Part love story and part elegy for the terrible choices we must often make to survive, My Enemy's Cradle keens for what we lose in war and sings for the hope we sometimes find.

 

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