February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

On the Radar Teen: World War II Round-up

The study of World War II is part of every standard middle school and high school curriculum in the United States. The question is, how do you keep it interesting for these readers? These titles keep it mixed up, from a graphic novel recounting the incredible journey of two girls who survived German death camps to the story of an American pilot who made a real difference by dropping candy to the children of Berlin.

5212otrraoul(Original Import)BORDEN, Louise. His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg: Courage, Rescue, and Mystery During World War II. Houghton Harcourt, 2012. ISBN 9780618507559. JLG level: HH: history-high school (grades 10 & up)

Wallenberg, a Gentile from an influential Swedish banking family, saved thousands of Jews from being sent from Hungary to Nazi concentration camps. This account is highly detailed yet readable, and includes many resources, including a bibliography, links to videos, and archived material. The generous use of photos makes this attractive to browsers and adds an additional layer of authenticity.

5212otrsearch(Original Import)HEUVEL, Eric with Ruud van der Rol and Lies Schippers. The Search. Farrar. 2009. JLG level: C+: advanced readers (grades 6-9)

Helena and Esther, child survivors of World War II and the Holocaust, tell their grandsons about their respective experiences, linking family history to the Dutch Resistance and the death camps. This graphic novel captures the emotions of the characters and the difficult circumstances, with smart narrative that keeps the story moving. Good choice for older reluctant readers.

5212otrghosts(Original Import)SEIPLE, Samantha. Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s World War II Invasion. Scholastic, 2011. ISBN 9780545296540. JLG Level: HH: history-high school (grades 10 & up)

Most Americans today wouldn’t believe it if told that the Japanese invaded Alaska in World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Seiple fills this hole in our country’s history with this highly researched and detailed account of the invasion and defense of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in June of 1942. By summer 1943, the battle was over, and 1,000 men had died. Many first-person accounts and black-and-white photographs make this a truly special book.

51212otrcandy(Original Import)TUNNELL, Michael O. Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot.” Charlesbridge, 2010. ISBN 9781580893367. JLG Level: NE: nonfiction elementary (grades 2-6)

Author Michael Tunnell admits to having a fascination with true stories of children surviving against the odds, just one of the factors that led him to write this account of how American Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen dropped candy over West Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. He was able to meet with Halvorsen several times while writing the book, which undoubtedly contributed to the rich details and descriptions. An author’s note, selected references, further reading, and an index are included. Though leveled for younger readers, the photos and personal connection between Tunnell and Halvorsen make this an entertaining and informative read for all ages.

Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Year after year, Junior Library Guild’s book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit them at JuniorLibraryGuild.com.

This article originally appeared in School Library Journal‘s enewsletter SLJTeen. Subscribe here.

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Dodie Ownes About Dodie Ownes

Dodie Ownes left the glamorous world of retrospective conversion and disco to jump on the library vendor train. Since then, she has been learning at the feet of the masters about all things library. Dodie lives in Golden, Colorado, where even the sign which arches the main street says "Howdy."

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