Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse

Zonderkidz. Sept. 2023. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780310155775.
Gr 4-8–Claire, a 13-year-old daughter of apple farmers in Michigan, and Karl, a Nazi prisoner of war, find themselves in an unlikely friendship—with hints of more—when their lives intersect at Claire’s family orchard. This novel-in-verse is based on a true story of a group of German POWs who were transported to the Midwest to help with labor shortages due to the large quantity of Americans fighting in the war. Through dual perspectives, VanderLugt aims to humanize the characters and show that Karl, who was a member of the Hitler Youth, recognizes the horrors of war and the way he was indoctrinated; he is portrayed as a sympathetic character. Pacing and character development flow well in this story and hold readers’ interest. WWII fiction crowds historical fiction collections, though not many focus on the experiences of German soldiers on American soil. This book sheds some light on this part of history.
VERDICT Recommended for purchase for upper elementary and middle school collections only where WWII fiction is in very high demand.

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