Mam working at the munitions factory, Dad away, fighting overseas, the Great War goes on and on.
John writes to Buckingham Palace in 1918, asking when the terrible war will be over, but neither King nor teachers nor mothers can answer the boy’s question.
As his class walks to tour the gigantic weapons factory, they encounter a man who refused to fight, a conscientious objector against war who knows that German and British children are more alike than different.
After the police beat the man and take him away for speaking unpatriotic thoughts in public, one photo of a German boy is left behind.
Soon the boy Jan appears in John’s dreams, and though they speak different languages, their wish for peace is the same. “I am just a child. How can I be at war?” (pg 20)
Among the extensive black and white illustrations, the reader’s mind can imagine the red of homemade rosehip jam and of the tiny scars on Mam’s cheeks left by faulty shrapnel in the factory and of sunsets preceding John’s dreams of children spreading seeds of peace instead of hate.
Published in the UK in 2018 to mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, this child’s eye view of war is a May 2020 US release.
Can we love our country and hate war? **kmm
Book info: War is Over / David Almond; illustrated by David Litchfield. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
A deal with the Devil!? Are the police ignoring evidence? Are you sure this partnership is on the up-and-up?
Hope you’ve already downloaded the Sora app on your phone or tablet and selected Audiobooksync as your public library there so you can quickly download and save a scary story or two from this week’s free selections.
Each pair of professionally produced audiobooks is available from Thursday morning to Wednesday night – the full calendar with selections and summaries is here.
Thursday equals a pair of related new titles in the AudioSYNC program, both free for you to download before Wednesday night, 13 May 2020.
For each audioSYNC book you choose, be sure to hit ‘Borrow’ on the Sora app (downloaded on your phone or tablet). Then it will be checked out to you for 35,996 days or 100 years – enough time to listen to all 26 selections of summer 2020!
Secret Soldiers: How the US Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis (info here)
A year after his close-knit group of friends ruptures, Danny worries about his future as an artist after high school. When the California teen discovers a box of secrets in Dad’s closet, everything his immigrant family has told him comes into question, too.
How do we camouflage our true intentions from others? **kmm
The before and the after of the Berlin Wall speak to you in this week’s free AudiobookSYNC selections!
In one title, a fictional family divided in 1961 by the Wall echoes the plight of thousands of Germans during the Cold War, while a nonfiction examination of the Cold War’s end and the fall of the Wall shows long-awaited reunions.
Choose one, choose both! Just be sure to download before Wednesday 29 May 2019 so you can read with your ears as long as you retain the audio file on your device.
Big thanks to the publishers for making each week’s pair of professionally produced audiobooks available to us – free!
Suddenly, her father and brother are on the western side of the new wall dividing Berlin! The guns of East German soldiers threaten Gerta, Fritz, and their mother constantly as hope of reunion dims and even neighbors cannot be trusted. There is just one chance for freedom – Gerta and Fritz must tunnel under the Wall!
President Ronald Reagan’s provocative 1987 speech in West Berlin called on Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia to tear down the Wall, which fell just two years later. This book uses information from Western and Soviet sources to chronicle the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
What literal or figurative walls have you seen change in your lifetime? **kmm
From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…
Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.
Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore. Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.
How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.
After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!
The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??
Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.
Book info: Because You’ll Never Meet Me / Leah Thomas. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, hardcover 2015, paperback 2017. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: One is allergic to electricity, the other is kept alive by a pacemaker – two very different teen boys become more than brothers or best friends through postal mail, uncovering a secret past that endangers them both.
Ollie must stay in a forest cabin, far from any US city because the tiniest bit of electricity sends him into life-threatening seizures, and says that being 14 and alone is extremely boring.
Moritz, seeing with his ears only, lives with his adoptive father in a busy German city, has a pacemaker for his fluttering heart, and at 16 is beyond bored with his schoolmates.
A doctor sets them up as penpals, so the guys begin telling one another their life stories through trans-Atlantic letters.
Their childhoods were quite strange, with parents gone missing and medical lab mishaps, and real-life friendships today are very difficult. Ollie misses Liz, who’s given up hiking in their woods for the normalcy of high school. Moritz finds a tenuous connection with Owen and his sister Fieke as bullies target all three of them.
These letters exchanged by Ollie and Moritz start encouraging each other to dare to live a little, even if it’s dangerous – as dangerous as the secret past that their shared memories begin to reveal.
Forbidden in Auschwitz:
humanity, relationships, possessions,
Her life forfeit if discovered, Zlatka rises above despair in the death camp by celebrating another year of friend Fania’s life with a paper origami heart, crafted in secret.
See the actual paper heart today in the Montreal Holocaust Museum – how fragile things like paper and hope can survive such hate…
As National Poetry Month closes, this novel in verse based on a true story of friendships opens our hearts.
Book info: Paper Hearts / Meg Wiviott. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Pulled from their Jewish families in different Polish hometowns to this terrible place, this death camp, young women Zlatka and Fania find hidden ways to bolster their spirits as they try to stay alive.
The guards turn girl against girl, and girls try anything to get another ration of moldy bread. Forced to work as slaves in a German metal factory making bomb casings instead of bowls, Zlatka and Fania and a few others do their best to be human to one another.
Watching the seasons pass, praying to Adonai in whispers no one can hear. As winter comes near, Zlatka decides to make a card for Fania, because a birthday – or any day – is a gift too precious to ignore.
Can the young women barter enough bread to get a piece of paper or pencil stub?
Can they keep this secret from Fania and the guards?
Will they live or die or keep existing in between?
Zlatka and Fania each tell their story through chapters of poems, enduring and persevering because friendship can make its own family in the midst of horror and despair. Based on actual people and events at Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp during World War II, this novel in verse celebrates the best and the worst of humanity.
Nearing the end of this great summer program, so please download either or both books (click on link following title) before Wednesday 3 August 2016, so that you can listen free as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.
Three young people whose lives are terribly disrupted in the turbulent years leading into World War II find comfort in playing a harmonica with magical music and unknowingly fulfill a pleasing prophecy.
Find this wonderful spring 2015 release at your favorite local library or independent bookstore so that you can discover the intricate music this wonderful harmonica threads through lives that need it most.
Have a story of an object that connects you to history? Please share in the comments below.
Book info: Echo / Pam Munoz Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A harmonica crafted through magic and mystery links three young people in different countries and times as they use their musical talents to overcome terrible odds.
In 1933 Germany, Friedrich apprentices in the harmonica factory with his father and uncle, away from those who mock his facial birthmark and conducting of the music he’s heard. As the tide of Nazi fervor overtakes his sister, threatens free-thinkers like his father, and condemns the harmonica as uncivilized, the melodies that 12 year old Friedrich plays are a small consolation.
At a Pennsylvania orphanage in 1935, Mike and little Frankie are determined to stay together. When a lawyer requests ‘musical children’ specifically, the brothers find themselves in a grand mansion whose owner wants to adopt one daughter! Tragedy took music out of Mrs. Sturbridge’s life years ago – perhaps 11 year old Mike’s practice for Hoxie’s Harmonica Band auditions can make her smile again.
Ivy plays harmonica concerts for her brother Fernando before he joins the army in 1942, before Papa is hired to care for a Japanese family’s California orange groves while they are detained in internment camp. The bigger cottage is nice, but not the rundown Americanization school for Mexican children – will the fifth grader be allowed to play in the new orchestra at the main school?
“Your fate is not yet sealed.
Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,
a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.”
Bracketed by the prophecy and promise fairy tale of the harmonica’s creation, the stories of Friedrich, Michael, and Ivy playing this fabulous instrument Echo with hope, joy, and longing to ensure their families’ well-being. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
In this award-winning short story, an anguished mother in a Nazi concentration camp searches for the shawl which could bring her just-murdered child back to life.
Many thanks to the publishers who allowed free downloads of their noteworthy audiobooks this summer through AudioSYNC.
Thirteen weeks, 26 great audiobooks – which was your favorite title?
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