To mark the 70th Anniversay in 2015 of the end of World War Two we have gathered together a selection of books, fiction and non-fiction, new titles and old ones, for a wide range of ages, to reflect the tragedy of World War 2.
Over the coming years a lot of books will be published for around WW2 anniversaries, so we will be selecting our favourites, both fiction and non-fiction to keep up to date. We hope it will inspire children never to forget the sacrifices made by their forbears. 'Lest we forget'.
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Once again the former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo, weaves an intensely moving story about an extraordinary animal caught up in a very human war. It’s World War Two in Germany, the animals in Dresden Zoo are to be killed because of the bombing but Elizabeth's mother who works there decides to save a young elephant and keep it in her garden. When her house is bombed she and her children and Marlene the elephant must escape the bombings and the Russians. It’s utterly compelling and like Michael’s other animal stories such as Adolphus Tips, Kaspar the Cat, The Butterfly Lion and Where the Whales Came, it is not to be missed.
Partly autobiographical, these are first and second books in the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Judith Kerr, telling the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War. Michael Morpurgo called When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: The most life-enhancing book you could ever wish to read.
Award-winning author and illustrator duo Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman have created a touching story about the way lives become entangled during conflict and how, unexpectedly, those ties can lead to enduring friendship. When Alex and her little brother Charlie met two old men on the beach they hear the unusual story of how their friendship developed despite fighting on opposing sides and how their past links to their own mother’s childhood. ~ Julia Eccleshare
A Lovereading4Kids 'Debut of the Year 2011' selection. 9+. Real-life action pumps through this wholly absorbing war time adventure. James Holland’s extensive knowledge of the history of the period gives him a rare ability to bring it vividly to life in a way that is both absolutely gripping and deeply moving. Johnny Hawke, only sixteen and a brand new Private in 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Rangers, immediately finds himself caught up in fighting on all sides. Johnny and his fellow soldiers are determined to stop the German advance. But, will they be able to ? What is they are all killed doing so? Duty Calls: Dunkirk captures the realities of war and the kind of bravery that comes from it. Click here to visit the Duty Calls website which includes both book and historical information, plus resources for teachers.
Shortlisted for the 2012 Carnegie Medal. | Unforgettable and eye opening, this is a compelling and deeply moving story of one family’s survival against unimaginable odds. Taken from their home with only twenty minutes to pack, Lina along with her mother and younger brother gather together everything they think is important. Herded into a train in Lithuania, they begin a seemingly endless journey of unimaginable deprivation and horror which takes them to Siberia. Lina tells the family story describing the emotional turmoil especially about the whereabouts of their father as well as capturing the fleeting moments of hope and even the feelings of falling in love which make survival possible.
Chosen by Jacqueline Wilson, February 2012 Guest Editor: "This is a very touching utterly convincing book about three wartime evacuees billeted to Wales. It's very much a children's story, with a mystery to be solved, but Nina Bawden is very subtle with her characterisation - even hateful Mr Evans with his cruel bullying is seen as sadly pathetic too. Carrie and her little brother Nick are a delight, but my favourite character is their friend Albert Sandwich. He might sport steel spectacles and have a few spots on his chin, but he's one of the most charming boys in all children's fiction." ............................................................................ I loved Carrie’s War from the moment I read it and have enjoyed it more and more with each rereading. At first, I appreciated Nina Bawden’s descriptions of the place and the people: the way she created the stifling atmosphere of the shop and how it contrasted with the freedom of everything that happened at Druid’s Bottom. I read it as the story of a girl being brave when she was away from home. Later, I came to realise that I and all other readers learned tolerance and understanding just like Carrie does. When Carrie is evacuated to Wales with her brother, Nick, she is removed from everything she knows. In a new home and without her parents to advise her Carrie has to work out for herself how she feels about the places around her and how to respond to the unusual circumstances in which she finds herself. While Nick’s emotions are always open, both as he grieves for his missing parents and in how he throws himself without restraint into the new way of life, both embracing Auntie Lou and challenging the bullying councillor Evans, Carrie is more reserved. Carrie waits and watches: she accepts the new situations and considers them coolly. She takes time to adjust to living apart from her parents and to find that she can make decisions for herself. But it’s only when she and Nick are sent to Druid’s Bottom, the strange spooky house set down in the bottom of the valley, that she can really let herself go, having at last found people she can trust. Carrie’s personal journey of discovery is a rich and marvellous one. It’s at Druid’s Bottom that Carrie meets Mrs Gotobed and discovers that growing old is not as terrible as it seems. Here to she meets Mr Johnny with his strange gobbling speech and learns that differences need not be frightening, while from her fellow evacuee Albert sandwich she learns to value her own intelligence. Above all it’s at Druids bottom that she meets the kindly and wise Hepzibah Green whose all-enveloping love and common sense keep Carrie going in difficult times. Despite these themes of separation and the very real dangers posed by the background of the war, Carrie’s War is an upbeat lyrical story containing moments of emotional truth. It is also universal story about growing up, making choices and learning who you can trust. Above all, it’s a story of enormous warmth and understanding, capturing that all-important transition from childhood to adolescence as Carrie grows in her understanding and finds out what really matters to her. One of the most heart-warming and unforgettable stories of the war tells the story of the evacuation of two children to Wales and about growing up amongst strangers and without family. It’s a wonderful evocation of times past and beautifully written. ~ Julia Eccleshare Perfect for Reluctant Readers as well as keen readers. To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here.
HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH. It's a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES
A gripping time-slip story with a World War Two setting plunges two children into an exciting adventure when they climb aboard a mysterious train and find themselves transported back to London at the time of the Blitz. Soon Joe and Scarlett find themselves on a desperate mission to save the life of Alfie whose home is blown to smithereens by a bomb. Packed full of detail about the time, this is gives a good insight into the very real dangers of growing up during the Blitz.
March 2010 Guest Editor Michael Foreman: "Towards the end of WWII enemy prisoners of War were brought to our village to help bring in the harvest. We boys played football with them, the enemy, during their break times. Children face-to-face with the enemy is the theme of Friend or Foe by Michael Morpurgo. I have been fortunate to have worked with 'the other Michael' on more than twenty books. As Friend or Foe is not one of them, I feel I can recommend this as a classic Morpurgo - children centre stage - not in a fantasy, but in a huge real life drama."
This is an award-winning and bestselling tale of friendship and courage. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. When a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France, she is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in 'Verity's' own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they've ever believed in is put to the test... A remarkable book. (Daily Mail).
Chosen as one of the Top Ten Best New Books for Children 2015 by Andrea Reece. - January 2015 Book of the Month I had never heard of Przewalskis horses until I read this book (they do in fact have an entry in Creaturepedia). The last descendants of an ancient breed, they live on the Ukrainian nature reserve Askaniya-Nova which is where this story begins. It’s wartime and a troop of SS soldiers have been sent to destroy the horses, as ‘a biologically unfit species’. Kalinka, a young girl orphaned by the war takes it on herself to lead the last two horses to safety. What follows is a gripping story of courage and resolve, an unusual animal story that is even more affecting because it includes real life events. ~ Andrea Reece
February 2015 Book of the Month Of the many stories of the Holocaust, that of the Jews of Riga in Latvia is among the less well known. This book tells their story for young people, clearly and honestly, emphasising its importance and relevance to us all. Discovering that her great-grandmother had come from Riga in the early 1900s inspired Vanessa Curtis to find out what happened to those relatives who stayed: Jewish, their fate was the worst imaginable. She describes those terrible times through the eyes of 15 year old Hanna, a normal, lively teenager, with a handsome boyfriend. Readers will find it easy to identify with Hanna, which makes her account of what happens to her even more affecting. The story ends on a note of hope for Hanna, and is a powerful tribute to all the Latvian victims of the Nazis. ~ Andrea Reece The Earth is Singing is Vanessa’s first historical novel, which she was inspired to write when she discovered her own Jewish Latvian heritage. Vanessa says: 'The story of the Jews of Riga is not widely known. After finding out that my great-grandmother was born there, but came over to England at the turn of the twentieth century, I began to wonder what happened to the Jewish friends and relatives that she had left behind. I visited the Riga Ghetto Museum and saw photographs of many of the thousands of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in 1941. Their eyes seemed to be telling me to relate their story, so that is what I did. I am delighted that Usborne have given me the opportunity to bring this story to a wider audience.'
To mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day this is a boxed set of three paperback books from the True Stories series: The Blitz, D-Day and The Second World War. This collection provides a great introduction to the military tactics, the tools of warfare and the roles of soldiers and civilians during this tumultuous time. But also, through the use of real-life stories these books illustrate the very personal experiences of war and the impact on those who lived through the Second World War.
Epic encounters between titanic warships, battles involving thousands of men, and duels between lone snipers facing almost certain death are just some of the dramatic tales in this gripping collection of stories from the Second World War. This is one of three books included in a special boxset from Usborne called True Stories of the Second World War published in association with the Imperial War Museum to mark the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. You may also be interested in the companion books of this series, The Blitz and D-Day.
This is a great all round introduction to The Blitz, the name given to the raids over Britain by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. The book is structured around the real-life experiences of pilots - both British and German - and of civilians who experienced the terrors and aftermath of the Blitz attacks. Each story is peppered with interesting facts including details about the aircraft used, the scientific developments such as radar which brought such benefits to the Allied Forces and the political strategy of the time. With fascinating accounts from London firemen, evacuees sent into the countryside for their own safety and tales of courage from fighter pilots this book illustrates the very real impact and experience of war. This is one of three books included in a special boxset from Usborne called True Stories of the Second World War published in association with the Imperial War Museum to mark the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. You may also be interested in the companion books of this series, D-Day and The Second World War.
Award-winning Barbara Mitchelhill brings Billy’s war-struck childhood vividly to life in this dramatic story of survival. Billy’s dad is away fighting and Billy’s mum thinks that the war will always be far away from their home in South London. As the threat gets close, Billy’s friends are evacuated to safety in the country. But not Billy or his sister Rose. His mum is sure that he will be safe at home. But will they? When the Blitz starts and the bombs begin to fall Billy faces real danger.
Brilliantly observed in words and pictures, War Boy is a first hand, eye-witness view of growing up in World War Two. Michael Foreman grew up in Lowestoft where bombing raids causing terrible damage were common as planes flew in over the North Sea. But amid the real dangers, Foreman and his friends made the best of their extraordinary circumstances enjoying a childhood with many familiar ingredients such as playing loads of football and belonging to different gangs and many unfamiliar ones including spotting and identifying enemy planes, playing ping pong on Morrison shelters and making rude noises with their gas masks. Perfect for Reluctant Readers as well as keen readers. To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here. Love Reading adds: War Boy is a modern classic that combines a touching personal story with factual information and wonderful illustrations. Wartime is brought vividly to life and interweaved with plenty of Michael Foreman’s personal childhood memories including when the bomb came through the roof. Reading this is in unforgettable experience. Winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.Other titles in this series of books set in, around and after the two world wars of the 20th century by Michael Foreman include, After the War was Over, War Game, War Boy, Farm Boy and Billy the Kid.
March 2014 Book of the Month Emotionally taut and empathic, this novel will transport the reader into the very heart of the Second World War and the lives of children caught in the middle of history. Yuri is celebrating his fourteenth birthday when the German planes comes swooping low over his home dropping bombs as they pass. The Battle of Stalingrad has begun. One of the most significant battles of World War Two and one which accounted for the greatest loss of life is described through the eyes of children. Despite the obvious suffering the children all manage to keep going in a heart-rending story of individual courage and collective endeavour as the citizens of Stalingrad fought to survive and to keep Stalingrad – and the whole of Russia - safe from the German army. A Piece of Passion from Susan Houlden, Editor, O'Brien Press When you have been working with children’s authors for over 25 years, you sometimes think you cannot be surprised or excited by any new manuscript that lands on your desk. Then someone like Nicola Pierce comes along. And there really is excitement as you turn to the first page – even when the book is in its first draft.There is a haunting quality to Nicola’s novels. Her characters will enter your life and they won’t let you put them down. You will never forget their stories. When you are reading City of Fate you have to know what happens to five-year-old Peter and his friends Yuri and Tanya as the Germans take control of the city of Stalingrad during WWII. And you feel you are on the train, crossing the great Volga River, sitting beside men and boys who may die, on the way to fight for the city, with Vlad and his classmates. You can hear Stalin, the Russian leader, with his order number 227: ‘Not One Step Back’. And you’re hoping they’ll all survive – even the bully Anton. A note from the author - I’ve always been interested in the two World Wars. Once I finished Spirit of the Titanic my publisher asked me what I wanted to write next. A good friend suggested the Battle of Stalingrad. I read up on it and discovered that this battle is generally considered to be the most important battle of World War II because it was the first time a German army was well and truly demolished. Over nine hundred lost children managed to survive for nine months in a devastated and dangerous city, and only six of those were ever re-united with their parents. I quickly decided this was the story for me.
This is a wondrous book that has been unavailable for far too long. At last though it’s back for a new generation of children to enjoy, and perhaps their parents too. Michael Foreman with Louise Borden have successfully brought to life the story of those on a small fishing craft which formed part of the Armada of little ships that saved many besieged British troops in Dunkirk in the second World War. The spare and dramatic text alongside some remarkable pictures bring this very important bit of our history vividly to life.
July 2013 Book of the Month An exciting and thought-provoking World War II adventure for children aged 9-12. With shades of Michael Morpurgo, Michelle Magorian and Robert Westall’s classic The Machine Gunners the author carefully explores the moral dilemma of helping the enemy, and the pressures placed on family members left at home, far away from enemy lines. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher My uncle was a rear-gunner on a bomber in the war, and when he was shot down I hoped that someone would look after him. This is the choice facing our hero Peter, who finds out that being brave sometimes means doing what is most difficult. Loyalty to real values is even harder when war seems so black and white. Dan Smith’s courageous story is exciting, moving, and full of conflict. I think you’ll find yourself really CARING about what’s going to happen next.
May 2014 Book of the Month Growing up in Germany at the beginning of the Second World War, Karl Engel imagines the role he might play in fighting for his country. Joining the Hitler Youth movement will be his first step. But after his father is killed, Karl realises that the war is not so good or glorious as he had once thought. Gradually, and especially after his brother Stephan is in trouble, Karl begins to question the world he lives in. Rich in detail, this is a thought-provoking story. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher, Chicken House Brothers often fight – and feel that parents just don’t understand or take unfair sides. But when taking sides becomes a matter of life and death, then the brothers in Dan Smith’s war-time Germany have to make some tough decisions together. Based on real Second World War events, this brilliant story gives a feeling of what life was like when children were faced with real evil and conflict. Fighting for our freedom – who knows if it may be something we have to choose again one day!