WWII children's books and picture books

Children's Books and Picture Books--Poole to Ziefert

Poole, Josephine and Angela Barrett (Illustrator).  Anne Frank (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2005).

The life of Anne Frank, from birth until being taken from the hidden attic by the Nazis, is presented in this haunting, meticulously researched picture book. It is a compelling yet easy-to-understand "first" introduction to the Holocaust as witnessed by Anne and her family. The stunningly evocative illustrations by Angela Barrett are worth a thousand words in capturing for young Americans what it must have felt like to be Anne Frank, a spirited child caught in the maelstrom of World War II atrocities. A detailed timeline of important events in Europe and in the Frank family is included.


Radunsky, Vladimir.  What Does Peace Feel Like? (Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books, 2003).

Radunsky strings together descriptive similes and metaphors to describe the essence of the word "peace." "What does Peace smell like? Like a bouquet of flowers in a happy family's living room…like fresh and new furniture…like pizza with onions and sausage.…" To the side of each question, the author indicates the names of children from the Ambrit International School in Rome who contributed their sentiments to the text. Other spreads attempt to explain how peace looks, sounds, tastes, and feels. Colorful gouache illustrations, primitive in design, supplement the concept. The only unique feature is the extensive list of words for peace in over 150 languages that appears at the end. While the book might be useful for a unit on peacekeeping, there is nothing original here. (Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, for School Library Journal)


Rappaport, Doreen and Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator).  The Secret Seder (Hyperion Books, 2005).

Jacques and his parents are hiding in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, pretending to be Catholics. On the first night of Passover, Jacques and his father elude Nazi soldiers to gather with other Jews and celebrate the Seder in secret. For this book, Doreen Rappaport researched the lives of resistance fighters and Jews in hiding: brave men and women who managed to survive one of the darkest times in history with their faith intact. Emily Arnold McCully's intense and respectful paintings illuminate the perils of a turbulent time and the triumphs of a resilient people.


Reynoldson, Fiona.  Key Battles of World War II (Heinemann, 2001).

Key Battles of World War II provides in-depth background information and detailed descriptions of an important event in history, while considering the causes and effects, the issues at stake, the people involved, the aftermath, and consequences.


Rubin, Susan Goldman and Ela Weissberger.  The Cat With the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin (Holiday House, 2006).

Ela Stein was eleven years old in February of 1942 when she was sent to the Terezin concentration camp with other Czech Jews. By the time she was liberated in 1945, she was fifteen. Somehow during those horrendous three-and-a-half years of sickness, terror, separation from loved ones, and loss, Ela managed to grow up. Although conditions were wretched, Ela forged lifelong friendships with other girls from Room 28 of her barracks. Adults working with the children tried their best to keep up the youngest prisoners' spirits. A children's opera called Brundibar was even performed, and Ela was chosen to play the pivotal role of the cat. Yet amidst all of this, the feared transports to death camps and death itself were a part of daily life. Full of sorrow, yet persistent in its belief that humans can triumph over evil; this unusual memoir tells the story of an unimaginable coming of age.


Russo, Marisabina.  Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II (Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books, 2005).

Rachel's Oma (her grandmother) has two picture albums. In one the photographs show only happy times -- from after World War II, when she and her daughters had come to America. But the other album includes much sadder times from before—when their life in Germany was destroyed by the Nazis' rise to power. For as long as Rachel can remember, Oma has closed the other album when she's gotten to the sad part. But today Oma will share it all. Today Rachel will hear about what her grandmother, her mother, and her aunts endured. And she'll see how the power of this Jewish family's love for one another gave them the strength to survive.


Takashima, Shizuye.  A Child in Prison Camp (Tundra Books, 1992).

When Shizuye Takashima, “Shichan” as she was called, was eleven years old, her entire world changed forever. As a Japanese-Canadian in 1941, she was among thousands of people forced from their homes and sent to live in internment camps in the Canadian Rockies. Although none had been convicted of any crime, they were considered the enemy because the country was at war with Japan. In this true story of sadness and joy, Shichan recalls her life in the days leading up to her family’s forced movement to the camp, her fear, anger, and frustration as the war drags on, and the surprising joys in the camp: a Kabuki play, holiday celebrations, and the ever-present beauty of the stars.


Tsuchiya, Yukio and Ted Lewin (Illustrator).  Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

A zookeeper recounts the story of John, Tonky, and Wanly, three performing elephants at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, whose turn it is to die, and of their keepers, who weep and pray that World War II will end so their beloved elephants might be saved.


Uchida, Yoshiko.  The Bracelet (Putnam Juvenile, 1996).

Emi, a Japanese American in the second grade, is sent with her family to an internment camp during World War II, but the loss of the bracelet her best friend has given her proves that she does not need a physical reminder of that friendship.  


Vander Zee, Ruth.  Erika's Story (Creative Editions, 2003).

The searing, beautiful illustrations of acclaimed artist Roberto Innocenti capture the fear, love, and sadness of a Holocaust survivor's tale in this story of a Jewish couple who make a heart-rending decision so that their infant daughter might live. Based on a true story.


Walker, Alice.  Why War is Never a Good Idea (HarperCollins, 2007).

Though War is Old / It has not / Become wise," Walker writes in this spare, eloquent poem. Naive-style paintings in neon-bright colors celebrate forest diversity and urban communities across the globe. Then each community, in turn, is destroyed by war, its glowing warmth disappearing beneath clouds of smoke and ash. On the first page, a smiling frog and a beautiful pink flower bask in a pond; on the opposite page, "Huge tires / Of a / Camouflaged / Vehicle are /About to / Squash / Them flat." Then the destruction intensifies: something drops from the sky on a Latino boy dreaming on a haystack. Images of eyes greedy for oil give way to a stark picture of mothers and babies buried beneath swirling, tactile streams of waste. The communities are always idyllic, with no hint of poverty or struggle, but the activist message and sometimes frightening images will compel children to talk about what they feel and see. (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Wild, Margaret and Julie Vivas (Illustrator).  Let the Celebrations Begin! (Orchard Books, 1996).

A child, who remembers life at home before life in a concentration camp, makes toys with the women to give to the other children at the very special party they are going to have when the soldiers arrive to liberate the camp.


Yolen, Jane and Leslie Baker (Illustrator).  All Those Secrets of the World (Little Brown & Co., 1993).

The highly prolific Yolen ( Owl Moon ; Elfabet ) here relates a bittersweet memory from an important period in her childhood: the two years during which her father was away at war. She recalls the fun she and her cousin Michael had when the family piled into the car to go see Daddy's ship off at the docks--the children ate ice cream cones, but Mama "cried all the way home." At the beach the next day Janie and Michael see some tiny spots on the horizon. Michael tells her that they are ships, but Janie doesn't believe him. (The specks are so small, she says, and her daddy's ship was so big. . . .) Five-year-old Michael teaches her a "secret of the world"--as he moves further away from her, he gets smaller. When father returns and tells his daughter that she is "lots bigger than I remembered," Janie explains, "Now you are here, so I am big." This timely, nostalgic story is told with simple grace, and Janie's thoughts and experiences are believably childlike. Baker's ( The Third-Story Cat ) watercolors are poignant, evocative and contain just the right amount of sentimentality.
(Publisher’s Weekly)


Young, Ed.  Voices of the Heart (Scholastic Press, 2003).

In this deeply personal book, Ed Young explores twenty-six Chinese characters, each describing a feeling or emotion, and each containing the symbol for the heart. Through stunning collage art that interprets the visual elements within each character, Young uncovers layers of meanings for words such as joy and sorrow, respect and rudeness. He invites readers to probe the full range of their own emotions and he gives a context for discussing ethics and the similarities between old and new, East and West. It's a book for those who love the beauty of language and the beauty of the heart.


Ziefert, Harriet.  A New Coat for Anna (Dragonfly Books, 1988).

"A fresh and moving story of a mother's dedication to acquire a coat for her daughter in post-World War II hard times. Anna's mother decides to trade the few valuables she has left for wool and for the services of a spinner, a weaver, and a tailor. Lobel's pictures do a tremendous job of evoking the period. Insightful and informative, this may make children consider how precious the ordinary can become in times of turmoil." (Booklist) 


Children's Books and Picture Books--Krinitz to Polacco

Krinitz, Esther Nisenthal and Bernice Steinhardt.  Memories of Survival (Hyperion, 2005).

In this stunning collection of embroidered panels lies Esther Krinitz's remarkable journey of living through the Holocaust in Poland. At the age of 15, she and her 13-year-old sister separated from their family and went into hiding. Forced from the homes of their friends and neighbors, they sought refuge in the depths of the forest. With no place left to turn, they disguised themselves as Catholic farmhands and lived for years in fear as the war raged on. The eventual end of the war brought with it a heartbreaking discovery: while Esther and her sister survived, their parents and siblings, and millions of other Jews, did not.Though never trained as an artist, at the age of 50, Esther decided to retell her memories through this series of hand-stitched panels. At once naive and infinitely complex, these images reveal both the extreme horrors of war and the cherished family memories shared before the war began. Told in Esther's own words! , with commentary written by her daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, this is an unforgettable look back to a time and events that must never be forgotten.


Littlesugar, Amy and William Low (Illustrator).  Willy and Max: A Holocaust Story (Philomel, 2006).

When Max’s dad buys a painting from the window of Willy’s dad’s antique shop, Willy and Max become instant friends.They are just alike, down to their same missing tooth! Even though Max lives in the Jewish quarter, the boys are inseparable—until the Nazis come. They take everything from Max’s family, including the precious painting that began the boys’ friendship.And though they promise to be friends forever, Willy and Max know that something unspeakable is coming between them, and they may never see each other again.  Beautiful and heartbreaking, Willy & Max is the powerful story of two boys separated by circumstance, but held together through generations by a simple painting—and the unbreakable spirit of their friendship. 


Marshall, Ann, Luba Tryszynska-Frederick (Translator) and Michelle Roehm McCann (Illustrator).  Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen (Tricycle Press, 2003).

Just when it seems a non-fiction Holocaust book can't tell us anything new, along comes a story like this one, an inspiring, upbeat, true rescue account that is essential to the history. In the last few months of the war, Luba Trysznka, a young Polish Jewish woman, saved more than 50 Dutch Jewish children who had been abandoned in a snowy field behind her barracks in Bergen-Belsen. She sheltered the children, scavenged and stole for them, and cajoled food scraps, medicine, and wood to keep the children alive. McCann's third-person account is based on interviews with Luba, who now lives in the U.S., and Marshall's handsome accompanying art, in oil paint and collage, is radiant. There are also occasional photos, including one of the survivors 50 years later when their brave rescuer was honored. There are no guards or emaciated corpses here, and children will need the useful introduction and afterword to fill in the facts about the millions who did not survive—among them, Dutch teen Anne Frank, who died of typhus right at Bergen-Belsen.  (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Maruki, Toshi.  Hiroshima No Pika (HarperCollins, 1982).

Hiroshima No Pika (Hiroshima No More) is a retelling of a mother's account of what happened to her family during the Flash that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. Toshi Maruki is highly regarded as an artist in her native Japan. Since the end of Worl War II, she and her husband Iri Maruki have been actively engaged in campaigning for nuclear disarmament and world peace. In addition to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the subjects of her paintings have included the Minamata tragedy and genocide during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. Hiroshima No Pika was awarded the Ehon Nippon Prize (for the most excellent picture book of Japan), an annual award given by the Yomiuri Shimbun Press.


Mochizuki, Ken and Dom Lee (Illustrator).  Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story (Lee & Low Books, 2003).

Add this to the stories of the Righteous Gentiles. In 1940, Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Lithuania, saved the lives of hundreds of Polish Jewish refugees. He personally wrote out visas that enabled the Jews to escape the Nazis. To do that, he risked the lives of his own family and disobeyed the instructions of the Japanese government. The story is told in the first person by the consul's son, Hiroki, who remembers himself at the age of five when desperate refugees were crowding at his father's door. He remembers how his father consulted his family and how they all discussed their choice: if they helped those people, the family could be in danger; if they did nothing, all the refugees could die. Lee's stirring mixed-media illustrations in sepia shades are humane and beautiful; they capture the intensity of those days--when the crowds were at the gate and one man wrote and wrote the visas by hand--from the child's viewpoint. The immediacy of the narrative will grab kids' interest and make them think. And yet, this story cries out for fuller historical treatment than a picture book can give it. So many questions are left unanswered: What happened to the refugees? What happened to the consul's family? A brief afterword just hints at the astonishing drama. (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Mochizuki, Ken and Dom Lee (Illustrator).  Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low Books, 1995).

A Japanese American boy learns to play baseball when he and his family are forced to live in an internment camp during World War II, and his ability to play helps him after the war is over.


Nelson, S.D.  Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story (Lee & Low Books, 2006).

The short life of Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian and one of the marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, is chronicled in a picture book for middle-graders. Shy and silent, Hayes found comfort first in the regimen of a government-run boarding school and then in the armed services during World War II. He and five other Marines were immortalized in that iconic image of raising the Stars and Stripes on a pole, which was later made into a bronze statue. Hailed as a hero upon his return, Hayes found it difficult to adjust to civilian life, sinking into despair and alcoholism, a disease that killed him 10 years later. Some of Nelson's acrylic images, like his language, are a bit stiff and stilted, but several spreads dynamically capture the fury of war, and the text is readable and informative. The author's note provides a bit more information about this well-known military moment. (GraceAnne DeCandido for Booklist)


Nerlove, Miriam.  Flowers On The Wall (Margaret K. McElderry, 1996).

Stories about the Holocaust for young children always raise problems: either they tell the terrifying truth and that can overwhelm this audience, or they distort the truth and make things sweet and hopeful. This quiet picture book is neither sensational nor comforting. Inspired by a pre-Holocaust photograph by Roman Vishniac, Nerlove imagines the life of a Jewish child in Warsaw who stayed in bed all winter because of the cold and painted flowers on the wall behind her bed. Most of the story takes place before the Nazi invasion, when the Jews suffered under Polish oppression. For a brief period, Rachel gets some shoes and even manages to go to school; then the Germans come, and the final double-page spread shows the Jews being taken to Treblinka concentration camp, Rachel's dreams "gone forever." The words and watercolor pictures are understated, avoiding close-up scenes of brutality, starvation, and breakdown. The focus is on the rooms of home and school and the brightly colored flowers that cover the cracked gray walls.  (Hazel Rochman for Amazon.com)


Oppenheim, Joanne.  Dear Miss Breed (Scholastic Nonfiction, 2006).

In the early 1940's, Clara Breed was the children's librarian at the San Diego Public Library. But she was also friend to dozens of Japanese American children and teens when war broke out in December of 1941. The story of what happened to these American citizens is movingly told through letters that her young friends wrote to Miss Breed during their internment. This remarkable librarian and humanitarian served as a lifeline to these imprisoned young people, and was brave enough to speak out against a shameful chapter in American history.


Oppenheim, Shulamith Levey and Ronald Himler (Illustrator). The Lily Cupboard (HarperTrophy, 1995).

Although this depiction of a young Jewish girl's experience in Nazi-occupied Holland "ultimately does not ring true," said PW, it is "sure to provoke further discussion and may serve to introduce the themes of war and racism." (Publisher’s Weekly)


Platt, Richard.  D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion (DK Children, 2004).

How did the Allies plan and execute the most massive and daring invasion in military history? Read all about it in the DK Reader that explains in thrilling detail how the Nazis were defeated on the beaches of France. DK Readers is a multi-level learning-to-read program combining DK's highly visual style with appealing stories at five graduated levels. Stunning photographs and engaging, age-appropriate stories are guaranteed to capture a child's interest while developing reading skills and general knowledge. DK Readers allow progression of stories for beginning readers with simple sentences and word repetition through to stories with rich vocabulary and more challenging sentence structure for proficient readers.


Polacco, Patricia.  The Butterfly (Philomel, 2004).

Since the Tall Boots—the Nazis—have marched into Monique's small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her. Until the night Monique encounters "the little ghost" sitting at the end of her bed. When she turns out to be--not a ghost at all--but a young girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique's own basement, how could Monique not be surprised! Playing upstairs after dark, the two become friends until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime flight. In the tradition of Pink and Say, Patricia Polacco once again dips into her own family's history to reveal her Aunt Monique's true story of friendship from the French Resistance.



Children's Books and Picture Books--Abells to de Paolo

Abells, Chana Byers.  The Children We Remember (HarperTrophy, 2002).

Through moving photographs from the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem, Israel, archivist Chana Byers Abells has created an unforgettable essay about the children who lived and died during the Holocaust. While it is a story of death and loss, it is also a story of courage and endurance, a story to be shared with today's children.


Adler, David A.  and Karen Ritz (Illustrator).  Hiding from the Nazis (Holiday House, 2001).

Hiding from the Nazis is the true story of Lore Baer, who as a four-year-old Jewish child was placed with a Christian family in the Dutch farm country to avoid persecution by the Nazis.


Adler, David A. and Llyod Bloom (Illustrator).  One Yellow Daffodil: A Hanukkah Story (Voyager Books, 1999).

Holocaust survivor Morris Kaplan spends his days tending his flower shop and trying to ignore his emotional emptiness. Two of his youngest customers, Jonathan and Ilana, visit every Friday to buy flowers for their family's Sabbath. He is surprised when the children arrive on a Tuesday, until they explain that this bouquet is for the first night of Hanukkah. After Mr. Kaplan admits that he no longer observes holiday traditions, the children invite him to join their family festivities the following evening. Although the celebration brings forth painful memories--including one of a single daffodil growing in the mud at Auschwitz--the experience helps Morris begin reconnecting with humanity. Bloom's rich acrylic paintings lend an appropriately thoughtful tone to the pensive text. The story is only marginally connected with Hanukkah, but it lends itself to sharing on Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Kay Weisman for Booklist)


Adler, David A. and Rose Eichenbaum (Illustrator).  The Number on My Grandfather's Arm (Urj Press, 1987).

The moving story of a young girl who learns her grandfather’s experience in Auschwitz and then helps him overcome his sensitivity about the number on his arm, this award-winning picture book gives young children "just enough" information about the Holocaust without overwhelming them.


Amis, Nancy.  The Orphans of Normandy: A True Story of World War II Told Through Drawings by Children (Atheneum, 2003).

When the Allies invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944, one hundred orphaned girls were forced to flee their orphanage in Caen, France, the only home many of them had ever known. They began a trek on foot to a safer location, to Beaufort-en-Vallée, a town one hundred and fifty miles away. As the war raged on all sides of them, the girls, led by their teachers, bravely marched south, keeping one step ahead of the fighting and waving little white flags for protection. Told through their own drawings and words, this moving and timely book details their experiences on their journey to safety.


Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.  Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow (Scholastic Nonfiction, 2005).

"I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world." --Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933 By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany's young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.


Borden, Louise W and Robert Andrew Parker (Illustrator).  Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).

When the United States enters World War II, Molly is attending Beechwood Elementary. But her thoughts are with Ted Walker, her neighbor, who is serving aboard a cruiser in the South Atlantic. Three years later, the war is still going on and Molly is in the fourth grade. Ted is still at sea, as a naval officer of the USS Albacore, a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. Orchard Road feels like the safest place on earth, but somewhere on the other side of the world, Ted and his crew are carrying out dangerous missions. No one knows when they will come home, and young Molly must find a way to live with fear during wartime.


Borden, Louise and Niki Daly (Illustrator). The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands (Margaret K. McElderry, 2004).

In 1941 Piet, a young Dutch boy from Sluis, gets the assignment of a lifetime: He must skate along the frozen canals of the Netherlands and across the Belgian border, in order to guide two neighborhood children to their aunt's house in Brugge, where the children will remain for the duration of World War II. Their father has been taken by German soldiers, and the children are no longer safe in Sluis -- but the journey with Piet, past soldiers and enemies, is fraught with danger. 

Along the treacherous path to Belgium the three children skate using every bit of speed, courage, and strength they can muster. All the time they try to appear like innocent schoolchildren simply out for a skate, for if the German soldiers discover their escape plan, the children will be in grave trouble. During the journey Piet thinks about his hero, Pim Mulier -- the first person to ever skate the Elfstedentocht, the famous and prestigious Eleven Towns Race that takes place in his country. For years Piet has dreamed of proving that he is a skater as brave and strong as Pim Mulier -- but he had never imagined that his test would fall under such dangerous circumstances.


Borden, Louise and Michael Foreman (Illustrator).  The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II (Aladdin, 2003).

In May of 1940—the early days of World War II—half a million British and French soldiers were trapped in France. Weak and wounded, they needed aid. Help came in the form of countless small craft, steered by brave young men, in the legendary armada of "little ships" that sailed aross the English Channel. Many people wanted to be a part of the rescue mission. Here is the story of a girl who was so determined to help that she disguised herself as a boy to blend in with the men as they sailed toward Dunkirk.


Bunting, Eve and K. Wendy Popp  (Illustrator).  One Candle (Harper Collins, 2002).

For one family the traditional Hanukkah celebration has a deeper meaning. Amidst the food and the festivities, Grandma and Great-Aunt Rose begin their story-the one they tell each year. They pass on to each generation a tale of perseverance during the darkest hours of the Holocaust, and the strength it took to continue to honor Hanukkah in the only way they could.  Best-selling author Eve Bunting's touching and joyous story about the importance of remembrance is exquisitely rendered by K. Wendy Popp's remarkable pastels. One Candle reaffirms the values of tradition and family, but also shows us that by continuing to honor the tragedies and the triumphs of the past there will always be hope for the future.


Bunting, Eve and Chris K. Soentpiet (Illustrator).  So Far from the Sea (Clarion Books, 1998).

Laura Iwasaki and her family are paying what may be their last visit to Laura's grandfather's grave. The grave is at Manzanar, where thousands of Americans of Japanese heritage were interned during World War II. Among those rounded up and taken to the internment camp were Laura's father, then a small boy, and his parents. Now Laura says goodbye to Grandfather in her own special way, with a gesture that crosses generational lines and bears witness to the patriotism that survived a shameful episode in America's history. Eve Bunting's poignant text and Chris K. Soentpiet's detailed, evocative paintings make the story of this family's visit to Manzanar, and of the memories stirred by the experience, one that will linger in readers' minds and hearts. 


Bunting, Eve and Stephen Gammell (Illustrator). Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1989).

In this unique introduction to the Holocaust, Eve Bunting encourages young children to stand up for what they think is right, without waiting for others to join them.


Coerr, Eleanor.  Sadako (Putnam Juvenile, 1997).

Hospitalized with the dreaded atom bomb disease, leukemia, a child in Hiroshima races against time to fold one thousand paper cranes to verify the legend that by doing so a sick person will become healthy.


Deedy, Carmen Agra and Henri Sorensen (Illustrator). The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark (Peachtree Publishers, 2000).

Without the yellow star to point them out, the Jews looked like any other Danes. For centuries, the Star of David was a symbol of Jewish pride. But during World War II, Nazis used the star to segregate and terrorize the Jewish people. Except in Denmark. When Nazi soldiers occupied his country, King Christian X of Denmark committed himself to keeping all Danes safe from harm. The bravery of the Danes and their king during that dangerous time has inspired many legends. The most enduring is the legend of the yellow star, which symbolizes the loyalty and fearless spirit of the king and his people. Award-winning author and storyteller Carmen Deedy has poignantly recreated this legend which is accompanied by Danish illustrator Henri Sorensen's arresting full-color portraits. The result is a powerful and dignified story of heroic justice, a story for all people and all times.


dePaolo, Tomie.  I’m Still Scared (Puffin, Re-print, 2007).

DePaola picks up his autobiographical series right where his last title, Things Will Never Be the Same (2003),left off: December, 7, 1941. Now in second grade, little Tomie describes the reactions to the Pearl Harbor bombings, first at home, then at church, and finally at school, where the children attend special assemblies and try to understand new concepts, such as air raids. What isn't explained fully at school, Tomie can ask about at home, and with his family's caring support, he is able to work through his fears about the war. Once again, the warm, childlike narration captures both the specifics of the time and universal experiences that will connect with most children. The shaded, black-and-white sketches on each page extend the story's small, revealing moments--stinky, wet wool mittens drying on the classroom radiator; Tomie snuggled into his grandfather's hug. Children won't recognize the war details, such as blackout curtains, but they'll see their own worries about today's conflicts and feel reassured about their safety, right along with Tomie.


dePaolo, Tomie.  Why? (Puffin, 2007).

World War II is raging in Europe, and young Tomie finds that everyday life has changed in many ways. Sure, there’s still New Year’s Eve to celebrate, and he still has to face penmanship and arithmetic in second grade— definitely not his strongest subjects. But now he has to wear an extra sweater to school because they’re trying to conserve coal for heating. And a shopping trip to Hartford for Easter outfits seems more urgent in the face of looming shortages.



dePaolo, Tomie.  These Will Never Be the Same (Puffin, 2004).

The latest installment in dePaola's ongoing, still-unique autobiography takes readers through 1941, dePaola's seventh year, when world events elbowed their way into his world for good. Frequently mixing in neatly lettered pages from his treasured diary, dePaola chronicles exhilarating rides on sleds and amusement-park attractions, Saturday morning trips to the movie house, Sunday morning routines, a dance recital, trials and tribulations in second grade, and more--until December seventh brings all the grown-ups together around the radio, and his mother utters the title's prophetic words: "Things will never be the same." Livening nearly every page with vignettes or larger drawings, the author again draws children into a vanished, but somehow universal, world with his youthful narration, convincingly childlike sensibility, and irrepressible spirit.  (John Peters for Booklist)


Children's Books and Picture Books

Evacuees Memorial by Maurice Blik

Below follow a number of major books that look seriously at the effects that war, trauma, separation and upheaval have on children during a time of war.  They are presented here as a prelude to a list of quality books that tell the story of individual children, families and and friends as they forge their way through unspeakable and unbearable times.  With the exception of the general reference books below, most books in this section are recommended for primary age children.

Cohen, Sharon Kanglisser. (Sussex Academic Press).

This is the first exploration into the experience of child survivors in Israel, focusing on the child survivors’ experience in telling their past to a wider audience and in publicly identifying themselves as Holocaust survivors. Whilst psychological research focuses on survivor’s personal inhibitions and motivations in retelling their past, the book attempts to understand the impact that the post-war environment has had on the individual’s relationship to it. Using a qualitative narrative approach, this study examines the dynamics of 'silence' and 'retelling' in the post-war experience of child survivors. It demonstrates the ways in which social dynamics, as well as internal motivations, had an impact on the extent to which these people were likely to speak publicly about their war-time experience or whether they were more inclined to remain silent. The interviews with survivors are presented 'using their own voice', and can thereby be understood in their own unique context. The result is a unique work that synthesises social science fields as disparate as history and psychology.



Ericsson, Kjersti and Eva Simonsen (Editors).  Children of World War II: The Hidden Enemy Legacy (Berg Publishers, 2005).

Under pressure from the war children there, in 2001, social service agencies of the Norwegian government funded a research project into the children of Norwegian mothers and fathers from the German occupying forces during the war, and especially the government's policies regarding them. The project was later expanded to include all of Europe. The 14 studies explore such topics as Danish women's intimate fraternization, ideology and the psychology of war children in Franco's Spain, the Occupied Eastern Territories, and children of German Lebensborn Homes.



Lucas, Richard.  Did the Children Cry? : Hitler's War Against Jewish & Polish Children, 1939-44 (Hippocrene Books)

Based on eye-witness accounts, interviews, and prodigious research by the author, who is an expert in the field, this is a unique contribution to the literature of World War II, and a most compelling account of German inhumanity towards children in occupied Poland.


Yamazaki, James N. and Louis B Fleming.  Children of the Atomic Bomb (Duke University Press, 1995).

In 1949, the author, a pediatrician and medical researcher, was sent to Japan to study the effects of nuclear radiation, especially on children still in their mothers' wombs when the bomb was detonated. This report takes a medical look at the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and reviews some of the genetic abnormalities resulting from fetal exposure. The author also passes along information about the fate of Marshall Islanders accidentally exposed to radioactive fallout during the 1954 U.S. thermonuclear test at Bikini. This account is more than a medical report, however; Yamazaki relates his personal story as a Japanese American whose parents were treated roughly in a wartime internment camp in Arkansas while their son fought for America in the Battle of the Bulge. Yet the study is the most involving when he discusses the tragic legacy of the atomic bomb and sounds the alarm about the hazards of radiation in all forms. Yamazaki is on the staff of the UCLA medical school; Fleming is a former foreign correspondent. Illustrations.