Posts Tagged ‘World War 2’

After by Morris Gleitzman

July 17, 2012 Comments off

After by Morris Gleitzman. Pub. Viking, 2012 

If you have a pile of books to read and one of them is by Morris Gleitzman, then read that one first, you will not be disappointed.

This fourth part in the story of young  Jewish boy Felix during World War is just brilliant and in time sequence it slots in between second book Then and third book Now. It is a gap that had to be filled as it tells what happened to Felix in the last years of the war as the Nazis aredefeated and the Concentration camps are opened up.

Felix is being hidden down a hole on the farm of Gabriek at the end of Then. Gabriek leaves to join the Partisans who are living in the forests of Poland. Felix and the horse Dom follow Gabriek and become involved with the partisans who are conducting a guerilla war against the nazis.

As the war ends Felix finds himself in charge of a group of children from all sides and we see the hatred dissapate as a new world is about to begin.

The star of the show once again is Gleitztman’s easy style of short sentences and first person narration by Felix. He puts the reader in the action and personalises the Holocaust in the simplest way for children to read. Gleitzman also creates humour amongst the horror with his matter of fact narration, home spun philosophy and his boyish way of looking at life.

Felix is forever hopeful and mankind would do well to learn from him. Just brilliant.

Intermediate and high school in appeal.


Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French

June 16, 2012 Comments off

Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French. Pub. Angus&Robertson, 2012. 

Georg is a German boywho grew up in Hitlers German with anti Jewish sentiments and a love of his country.

What he didn’t know is that his English born father was a Jew. At a school prize giving members of a Nazi youth movement expose the father and throw him off a balcony to his death.

Georg and his German mother escape and his mother arranges for his flight out of Germany packed in a suitcase to France then England. He changes his name to George and sets about losing his German accent to become and English boy.

He experiences the blitz and is then shipped to Australia to be adopted by an Australin family.

Such children were called the “lost Children” and many had miserable lives but not George. Dinkum Aussie farmers the Peaslakes and a girl called Mud help him settle.

But as the war worsens he feels guilty. He is a German and therefore the enemy.

Great story, well written with a positive ending. Primary and Intermediate readers.

Telling Lies by Tricia Glensor

March 19, 2012 Comments off

Telling Lies by Tricia Glensor. Pub. HarperCollins, 2012.

A well written short novel about a New Zealand airman who is shot down over France in World war 2 and is sheltered by a French farmer and his family.

Based on some true incidents experienced by her father this novel exposes the cruelty, the fear and the untrustworthiness that existed in France under the nazis. No-one was safe,  the walls had ears and informers were everywhere. “Show me your papers” was the greeting custom of the day.

fifteen year old Simone who has artistic skills and her brother Bernard find a wounded airman after his plane crashes near their farm. They shelter him under immense pressure and when things go wrong escort him to Paris to help him get out of the country. Will they do it without getting caught or shot?

A good first book for Intermediate and high school students. Adds a human dimension to the history of World War 2.

The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail

March 12, 2012 Comments off

The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail. Pub. Black Dog Books, 2012. 

Novels about the Holocaust are powerful stories and this one opens with a majestic quote from Nelson Mandela “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love

It is the story of Hungarian sisters Hanna and Erika who with their parents are trucked to Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944.

Hanna because her ability playing the piano is selected to play for the Kommandant while her sister and mother work in the quarry. They are starved and go through all the atrocities and indignities that the nazis inflicted on the Jews.

Horrifying but essential to know about. Holocaust fiction should be read by everyone in the hope that it will never happen again. Knowledge is power is it not?

Hanna and Erika’s story is heart warming and uplifting amongst the horror. So what makes it different? Well Hanna falls in love with the son of the Kommandant. Realistic? Yes indeed.

The ending is a revelation. For Intermediate and high school students. A good follow up to John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Bloodlines: A time for War by M. Zachary Sherman

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

A Time for War by M. Zachary Sherman. Illus. Fritz  Casas. Pub. Stone Arch Books, 2011.

This is one of four stories about different wars involving the Donovan family. This family does not exist but the stories are based on real experience.

In this story Mike Donovan is a Parachute Infantryman in Dog Company who are charged with going before the main D Day Landing to secure the French town of  Carentan. He is blown off course and lands near a German patrol with guns and ammunition. He has to hide out.

His actions disappoint him and he thinks he maybe is a coward. Later when he rejoins his platoon he has cause to redeem himself.

Simple story about a real battle and things that happen to soldiers in battle.

Between the action there are Debriefing sections about the history of World War 2, and the weapons and equipment used by both sides.

Pages inbetween the story depict the action in classic graphic novel style by Fritz Casas and coloured by Marlon Ilagan.

Has strong visual appeal for reluctant boy readers with easy dialogue.

Ronnie’s War by Bernard Ashley

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Ronnie’s War by Bernard Ashley. Pub. Francis Lincoln Books, 2010.

This is the story of Ronnie Warren, who hates to be called “bunnie”, and who grew up in England during World War 2.

It starts with “The Blitz” as German bombers tried to blast Britain into submission and how Ronnie, who was 11 years old at the time, and his mother survived. It wasn’t easy and Ronnie is evacuated up north where the locals give Ronnie a hard time.  They survived until news of Ronnie’s father going “missing presumed dead” changes everything.

Ronnie’s mum takes a job at an Airbase with the Americans and Ronnie meets the lovely Evie who makes him fizz. Back to London for V.E. Day and hopefully a better life.

Bernard Ashley clearly has some affection for home life in World War 2 and his descriptions of the bombings, of life at school and of the social and economic life of the times is told in almost glowing terms. People struggled with adversity and by sticking together came through it. It is a life long gone but never to be forgotten.

An easy read and a very good one. You will not get a better potrayal of home life World War 2 than this one. Ronnie is also a strong character, he looks after his mum, thinks about others and knows how to handle himself. A good role model for boys and that matters.

Written for middle and Intermediate age children.