Thursday, January 18, 2007

WWII in picture books

We've been enjoying some picture books this week.

I've never thought of picture books as solely for little people (which is why I have no qualms about reading them with all my kids, preschool to teen.) They are an art form in their own right, and -- well done -- can be masterpieces. If the language is properly concise and economical, they can be a kind of illustrated poetry.

So, I always look forward to including picture books in our homeschool, whatever we're studying. Here are three that we've enjoyed in the last few days:

Boxes for Katje, by Candace Fleming is a wonderful book. I think I first heard about it from Lissa (no surprise there) but somehow didn't get my hands on it until recently. It tells the story of a young girl in Holland. Amid post World War II devastation, Katje's family and her village struggle to stay warm and get enough to eat. Then one day, a box arrives from America. A little girl named Rosie is participating in the Children's Aid Society's effort to get badly needed supplies and food to thousands of Europeans. What happens after that is a testament to the generosity of the human heart. It also reminded me, funnily enough, of this thread of Danielle Bean's. Katje and Rosie, though they live an ocean apart and have never met, indeed form a true, loving and enduring relationship.

Always Remember Me, by Marisabina Russo is based on the amazing true story of the author's grandmother, mother and two aunts and their separation during WWII. All four women survived, and were later reunited, after enduring the horrors of concentration camps and death marches. It is told so sensitively and so beautifully, within the framework of "Oma" sharing the story with her granddaughter.

The Orphans of Normandy : A True Story of World War II Told Through Drawings by Children, by Nancy Amis is another touching story based on real-life experiences. In 1946, the author's great-aunt came into possession of a journal, written and illustrated by little girls who had been forced from their orphanage home, La Maison du Clos, in Caen, France, in an effort to remain safe during the Allied invasion of Normandy. The 100 little girls, and their teachers, walked for more than two months, waving white flags all the way, before reaching the safety of Beaufort-en-Vallee, 150 miles away. The narration and illustrations in this book are the actual words and drawings of the girls.

All three of these books are in the "not to be missed" category. And, need I add that if you are in any way the kind of mommy who sometimes cries when she reads aloud, you had better station a box of tissues nearby when you start on this stack.


Beth said...

Thank you so much for this post: we'll be looking up these books for sure!

Karen E. said...

Get that Kleenex ready, Beth. :-)
And thanks for visiting!

MaryM said...

I was going to post this last night but the computer froze up after my other comment - so I went to bed!

I do very much enjoy your WWII book reviews. It is definitely a historic period that we are reading about and focusing on also. So thanks for the recommendations. A couple other picture books I haven't seen you mention, so don't know if you've read, but we have enjoyed are:
Lisette's Angels (about Normandy)
The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in WWII (evacuation at Dunkirk) and Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot (which is actually post WWII - during the Berlin airlift)

Karen E. said...

We haven't read those, but I'll be looking for them. Thank you!

And I'm off to check out the post at 4Real that you mentioned in your other comment.