Children's Books and Picture Books--Fleming to Kodama

Fleming, Candace and Stacey Dressen-McQueen.  Boxes for Katje (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003).

After World War II there is little left in Katje's town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom "thick and bright," Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje's street to deliver a mysterious box—a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What's inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks—beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same. This inspiring story, with strikingly original art, is based on the author's mother's childhood and will show young readers that they, too, can make a difference.


Gourley, Catherine and Camela Decaire (Authors) and Laszlo Kubinyi, Jamie Young and Connie Russell (Illustrators). Welcome to Molly's World, 1944: Growing Up in World War Two America (American Girls, 1999).

Coming on the heels of Welcome to Felicity's World, 1774 (1999), are these volumes showing the background of other American Girls. Molly's World introduces children to the social history of the early 1940s. A map of "Hometown, USA" shows such details as a rubber drive, a USO canteen, and a line outside the grocery store. Other double-page spreads focus on such topics as the Women's Army Corps, blackouts in the U.S. and air raids in England, and V-E Day. Kirsten's World follows a family of Swedish immigrants as they make their way to the frontier in the Minnesota Territory in the 1840s. Among the subjects introduced in the colorful double-page spreads are log cabin construction, Native American dress, and a trip to town. There are hundreds of illustrations, including period photographs and paintings, photographs of artifacts, and modern paintings of nineteenth-century scenes. Informative introductions preface the periods covered by the series. Other volumes are listed in Series Roundup, this issue.  (Carolyn Phelan for Booklist)


Hamanaka, Sheila.  Peace Crane (HarperCollins Publishers, 1995).

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Out of the ashes grew the legacy of Sadako, the girl who folded a thousand paper cranes. Now Sheila Hamanaka, author and illustrator of the acclaimed All the Color of the Earth, uses majestic oil paintings and heartfelt verse to express the dreams of another child, trapped in the violence of today's world, who wonders if the peace crane will ever come. Fifty years after the bombing of Hiroshima, this luminous book affirms the true spirit of Sadako and all who believe that peace is possible in our troubled time. 


Hamanaka, Sheila.  On the Wings of Peace: Writers and Illustrators Speak Out for Peace, in Memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Clarion Books, 1995). 

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fifty-eight writers and illustrators have donated prose, poetry, and artwork that deal with the proposition of peace - from the day-to-day issues of personal and community violence to international conflict. Some of the contributors are Leo and Diane Dillon, Walter Dean Myers, Kioko Mori, Katherine Paterson, Jerry Pinkney, Milton Meltzer, Paul Morin, and Wendell Minor. Children of today face the greatest challenge humanity has ever known: creating a world in which every man, woman, and child has the opportunity to live in peace. Throughout history, war has been the method of choice to resolve arguments over borders, injustices, ideologies, religions, and numerous other passionately held beliefs. The heroes of history have been the brave men and women who have risked their lives to fight their countries' battles. Events of the twentieth century have brought changes that now make going to war, for any reason, obsolete. The heroes of the twenty-first century will be men and women who find alternatives to war. These people are children today.


Hausfater, Rachel.  The Little Boy Star: An Allegory of the Holocaust (Milk and Cookies Press, 2006).

A young Jewish boy is given a star to wear. At first he is proud of the decoration, but soon finds the star overshadowing him—no one sees the boy, only the star. Lonely, frightened, and helpless, he watches as other star-wearers are led away into the night. This affecting allegory, rich with symbolism, educates children about the events of the Holocaust in a way that young minds can easily grasp. Told in simple, poetic language, the book offers a tender message of tolerance and inner strength.


Hesse, Karen and Wendy Watson (Illustrator). The Cats in Krasinski Square (Scholastic Press, 2004).

When Karen Hesse came upon a short article about cats out-foxing the Gestapo at the train station in Warsaw during WWII, she couldn't get the story out of her mind. The result is this stirring account of a Jewish girl's involvement in the Resistance. At once terrifying and soulful, this fictional account, borne of meticulous research, is a testament to history and to our passionate will to survive, as only Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse can write it.


Hest, Amy and Deborah Haefflel (Illustrator). The Ring and the Window Seat (Scholastic Inc., 1990).

Although she has been saving for a ring, Stella decides to give her bundle of nickles to a carpenter who is trying to rescue his little girl from a war-torn country.


Hoestlandt, Jo, Mark Plizzotti (Translator) and Johanna Kang (Illustrator).  Star of Fear, Star of Hope (Walker Books for Young Readers, 1996).

Like Richter's Friedrich (1970) for older readers, this picture book dramatizes the Holocaust from the point of view of a gentile child who watches the mounting persecution of a Jewish friend. Translated from the French, the story is narrated by Helen, who remembers herself at nine years old in 1942 when the Nazis occupied northern France. Why does her best friend, Lydia, have to wear a yellow star? Why are people in hiding and using strange names? What is Lydia afraid of? Helen quarrels with her friend, and then Lydia is taken away, and Helen never sees her again. The book won the Graphics Prize at the 1994 Bologna Book Fair. The pastel pictures in sepia tones are understated, with an old-fashioned, almost childlike simplicity. In contrast to the quiet pictures of the children together inside the house, there's a climactic double-page street scene of a long column of people carrying suitcases and being marched away by the French police. Without being maudlin or sensational, the story brings the genocide home.  (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Houston, Gloria.  But No Candy (Philomel, 1992).

While her Uncle Ted is off fighting in World War II, Lee watches the candy gradually disappear from the shelves of her family's store and realizes that her entire world has changed.


Hunter, Sara Hoagland and Julia Miner (Illustrator).  The Unbreakable Code (Rising Moon Books, 1996).

Because John is afraid to leave the Navajo Reservation, his grandfather explains to him how the Navajo language, faith, and ingenuity helped win World War II.


Johnston, Tony and Ron Mazellan (Illustrator). The Harmonica (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2004).

Based on a true survivor story, this powerful picture book is yet another astonishing Holocaust account for discussion. A Polish Jewish child, blissfully happy with his loving parents, gets a harmonica from his coal-miner father and learns to play Schubert while his parents dance. The realistic mixed-media, double-page illustrations contrast that glowing warmth of home with the darkness that comes when Nazi soldiers break down the door, separate the boy from his family, and send him to the camps. His harmonica becomes his solace. The commandant hears about the child's playing. He orders the boy to play Schubert and throws him bread. In the end, however, the music does nothing to humanize the brutal Nazis. In fact, one unforgettable picture shows the commandant blissfully listening to the music, one hand over his heart and the other holding a whip. The home memories are idyllic, but there's absolutely no sentimentality about the child's survival. Johnston gives children and grown-ups lots to talk about here—for example, Can a person be both sensitive and cruel? (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Josephson, Judith Pinkerton.  Growing Up in World War II: 1941 To 1945 (Lerner Publishing Group, 2002).

Books in the attractive Our America series give today's children an opportunity to understand what childhood and adolescence were like for America's youth in the past. Each book focuses on several children describing various aspects of their lives. In New Century, one girl is growing up on a southern plantation; another child is Kermit, the son of Teddy Roosevelt. The organization could have been better, but the writing is lively as Josephson gives a general introduction to the times, including such topics as work, play, and education. World War II follows a similar pattern, but the emphasis is on what it was like to live through the war years. Both books feature evocative black-and-white photographs. The design is pleasing, but sometimes particular pictures take up a whole page when a half would do. Footnotes, a selected bibliography bolstered by a list of books and Web sites, and a two-page spread of follow-up activities round out each book.  (Ilene Cooper for Booklist)


Kadohata, Cynthia.  Weedflower (Atheneum, 2006).

Twelve-year-old Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. The good part and the bad part. Raised on a flower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to. That all changes after the horrific events of Pearl Harbor. Other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States! As suspicions grow, Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in one of the hottest deserts in the United States. The vivid color of her previous life is gone forever, and now dust storms regularly choke the sky and seep into every crack of the military barrack that is her new "home." 

Sumiko soon discovers that the camp is on an Indian reservation and that the Japanese are as unwanted there as they'd been at home. But then she meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her first real friend...if he can ever stop being angry about the fact that the internment camp is on his tribe's land. With searing insight and clarity, Newbery Medal-winning author Cynthia Kadohata explores an important and painful topic through the eyes of a young girl who yearns to belong. Weedflower is the story of the rewards and challenges of a friendship across the racial divide, as well as the based-on-real-life story of how the meeting of Japanese Americans and Native Americans changed the future of both.


Kodama, Tatsuharu and Noriyuki Ando (Illustrator).  Shin's Tricycle (Walker Books for Young Readers, 1995).

A beautifully illustrated true story of another family's experience of the bombing of Hiroshima. Shin's uncle is able to get him the impossible: the tricycle he desperately wants. He is riding the wonderful, brand-new tricycle when the atom bomb is dropped. Shin is found in the rubble, holding on to his treasure. He dies later that day, ten days before his fourth birthday. The tricycle now sits in the Peace Museum in Hiroshima.