Sunday, September 30, 2012

Banned Book Week 2012

Today is the first day of Banned Books Weeks, as well as its 30th Anniversary.  Its purpose is to celebrate the freedom to read, to read anything we want even if it is unpopular or unorthodox.   Remember May 10, 1933?  The day the Nazis held their now famous book burnings?  Some of my very favorite books went up in flames that day.  And sadly,

Well, part of the reason for the book burning was to make sure the German people would not have access to other ideas beside what the Nazis wanted them to know.  Ironically, they burned the works of Heinrich Heine, a German Jewish poet who had always been much loved by the Germans.  It was Heine who prophetically wrote
"Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen"
(Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people)

You read that and can immediately see the importance of fighting censorship.  

Thinking about all this, I thought I would include some of my personal WWII favorites that have been banned for one reason or another are

1- Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself by Judy Blume - not her most famous banned book, but Blume says she identifies with Sally more than any other of her characters and this is the most autobiographical  book she has written.

2- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - written while in hiding from the Nazis, there are people who felt this book was too sexual and pornographic, a viewpoint that never ceases to make my jaw drop when I read it.

3- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - this was banned for using dangerous language.  I read it when I was about 14 and just starting to appreciate adult farce and though I loved this book, I forget to pay attention to the dangerous language.  And yes, I know, I should have posted about it by now and I will at some point (and I will be sure to pay attention to the dangerous language this time around.)

4- Slaughterhouse Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut - this was recently challenged by a writer in Republic, MO, a fact I find mildly amusing because I actually know someone who lived there.  The reporter felt the language was profane and there was too much explicit sex.

5- A Separate Peace by John Knowles - another high school favorite, this was challenged for have graphic and offensive language and for being a "filthy, trashy sex novel."  Again I forgot to pay attention to that then, and, oh yes, when I reread it.

6- Summer of My German Soldier by Betty Greene - this was challenged because the ending was too pessimistic, too sexually explicit, and for unsuitable language.  Why didn't these challengers say anything about the severe beatings Patty was given by her father or is abusive behavior more acceptable that a few dirty words?

Do yourself a favor and read a banned book this week and

Be sure to visit YouTube to view some of your favorite people "exercising their First Amendment right to read a banned book" at the Virtual Read-Out

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Becoming Clementine by Jennifer Niven

It has been almost a year since I reviewed Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven.  As you may recall, Velva Jean married at 16, learned to drive and at 18, drove from North Carolina to Nashville by herself, leaving her husband and hoping to a sing at the Grand Ol' Opry.  Talk about coming of age.

But then World War II began and VelvaJean found herself in the WASP Program (Women's Airforce Service Pilots.)  Now, in Becoming Clementine, it is June 16, 1944, Velva Jean is 21 and a seasoned pilot.  So seasoned that she has just become the first woman to fly a B-17 Flying Fortress across the Atlantic Ocean to Preswick Airfield, Scotland.  Proud of her accomplishment, she also has an ulterior motive for accepting this challenge - her beloved brother Johnny Clay, a paratrooper, hasn't been heard from since October 18, 1943 and Velva Jean is on a personal mission to find him.

As luck would have it, Preswick has been short of pilots since D-Day, less than two weeks earlier and Velva Jean decides getting to Europe would be the best way to find Johnny Clay, so she convinces all relevant authorities to let her copilot a mission to France.  On July 13, she gets orders to fly to Roun, dropping supplies and a team of OSS agents and returning immediately to base.

Naturally, over France, the plane is hit by enemy ground fire and badly damaged though still flying.  Then, when they finally find the place to make their drop, they realize it has been compromised by Germans.  In an attempt to avoid them and singing "My Darling Clementine" to keep herself calm, the plane nevertheless crashes. Velva Jean's flight crew is killed.  The team of five she was to drop does survive, but, angry and disgusted, they want to leave Velva Jean behind and try to find their own way.

Well, they may have wanted to leave Velva Jean, but she was a woman with a mission and a strong will.  Eventually, the survivors meet up with a member of the resistance and that begins their journey through occupied France with the aid of the Underground, eventually ending in Paris.  Through all this, Velva Jean finds herself more and more attracted to the leader of the OSS team, Émile Gravais and eventually this becomes a mutual attraction.

In Paris, Velva Jean is given a new identity, Clementine Roux, an American who married a Frenchman, unable to return to the US after the war began and her husband was killed.  Now, she is pulled into the mission Gravais and his team are to accomplish - rescuing an important agent code-named Swan being held in a woman's prison in Paris.

Velva Jean alias Clementine's new mission: get herself picked up and sent to the same prison.  Is that what happens?  No, it isn't.  And don't think for a moment she has forgotten about Johnny Clay.

One of the things I found very interesting in Becoming Clementine was how difficult it was for Velva Jean to embrace her new identity as Clementine Roux.  It is a testament to her strong sense of who she is that made Velva Jean want to keep surfacing, even in the face of danger.

I did feel that some of the technical bits about planes and things like that could have used some editing, mostly because I have no idea what I was reading about.  Confession: I thought skipping those bits but actually read on, all the while realizing that my fear of flying was getting the best of me and that some readers would find this fascinating.

Becoming Clementine has something for everyone: excitement, espionage, romance (but not much sex, none explicit), action, but it also has violence, lots of it and cursing, lots of that, so be warned.  It is a gritty, fact-paced novel but I felt it may still have the same level of YA appeal that Velva Jean Learns to Fly had even since it is still a coming of age story of sorts.  After all she had been through, it was hard to realize the Velva Jean is only 22 by the end of this novel.

And yes, there will be a fourth Velva Jean novel in autumn 2013.

This book is recommended for readers age 18+ and sophisticated teens with an interest in WWII
This book was received as an E-ARC from Plume Paperback through Edelweiss

For another review of Becoming Clementine at So Much So Many So Few, followed by a wonderful interview with the author Jennifer Niven

This is book 13 of my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back to Bataan by Jerome Charyn

This is the story of Jack, a lonely 11 year old boy.  To begin with, he is the only scholarship student at the Dutch Masters Day School, for which he must deal with some mean-spirited boys despite being top in his class.   His mother is away most of the time, working for the war effort and trying to cope with being left alone to care for things on the home front.   Poor Jack has also been having a hard time trying to cope with the loss of his father at the Battle of Bataan.  And so, Jack decides the thing for him to do is to drop out of school, enlist in the army and find General MacArthur and go back to Bataan to defeat the Japanese in the south pacific.  

Naturally, Jack doesn't get much support for this idea, but after his girlfriend breaks up with him and finds "love" with the rich, overweight Alfredo, a boy their class, life begins to feel like one abandonment after another.   Then Jack decides to take out his anger by hurting Alfredo"s family.  Afterwards, knowing it was wrong and believing he has committed a major crime, Jack takes the cowardly way out and runs away to Riverside Park rather than facing the consequences.  There, he finds acceptance, and companionship with some homeless led by the a tyrannical leader simply named The Leader.  

But are things really as wonderful as Jack thinks they are living with The Leader and his faithful companions.  Or does Jack find himself in his own personal war, where he must decide if he really is a coward or a brave enough soldier to do the right thing.  

At first, I was attracted to this short novel because it is a YA World War II story.  Next, I have a hard time resisting a novel set in my favorite place, New York City.   In the end, I found Back to Bataan to be a novel that stuck with me for a long time and I ended up with a mixed reaction to the story of Jack.   

First of all, the cover that came with the E-book led me to think it was a story about an old teen, not an 11 year old boy.  So disregard this cover.  Once I wrapped my mind around Jack's age, the story seems more for a younger reader, maybe someone on the cusp of MG/YA.  

Back to Bataan turns out to be a nice coming of age story of a boy seeking an appropriate male role model after he losses his own dad.  And this is a kid who needs guidance.   But everyone seems to fail him, except the one totally unexpected person in the story.  Which was a nice message - sometimes you find that the one who will help and guide you in life is the most unexpected person of all.  
And Charyn, who grew up in the Bronx during the war, gives a very realistic slice of life picture of NYC in the 1940s in Back to Bataan.  Now, I lived here all my live and have been in enough old soda fountain places to know the real deal and Charyn describes them to a tea or should I say an egg cream.  For the uninitiated, try going to Lexington Ave and 83rd Street and enjoy an egg cream at The Lexington Candy Shop, opened in 1925.

And the title Back to Bataan: now I watch that old 1945 John Wayne movie Back to Bataan on enough rainy afternoons with my brother to know that in 1942, after General McArthur was ordered out of Philippines, where Bataan is, he uttered the words "I shall return" and apparently young Jack took these words to heart.   But, it turns out,  he finds his own Bataan right in the heart of New York City.

If you are looking for something different to read about World War II, Jerome Charyn's novel Back to Bataan just may be the book for you.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was obtained from the publisher.

About the author:  Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since 1964, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.
Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

T4 by Anne Clare LaZotte

Paula Becker is 13, deaf and living in a small village in German when the Nazis pass Aktion 4 allowing them to do the unthinkable - "euthanize"disabled persons like Paula in their quest to become a master race and to eliminate the cost of caring for them.

T4 is a short novel in free verse told throughout in Paula's voice:

Hear the voice of the poet!
I see the past, future, and present.
I am deaf, but I have heard 
The beauty of song
And I wish to share it with 
Young readers...
 ...In T4, the facts
About history are true, and
My characters tell the story. 

At first, Paula writes, the Nazis target only people living in institutions and she is left alone.  But in March 1940, the family's  priest comes to the house in the middle of a snow storm to tell them that it is now necessary to get Paula out of the house and into hiding.

The priest takes her to a woman named Stephanie Holderlin, where it is believed that Paula can remain safely hidden.  There, she is able to learn  the official sign language of the deaf.  But early one morning, the Gestapo knock on the door.   They had been informed that a disabled person was living there.  They search the house, but do not find Paula.  Stephanie finally manages to get rid of them, but Paula must be moved to another safe place immediately.

This time, she is taken to a homeless shelter run by a Lutheran priest.  There, she meets Homeless Kurt.  Gradually, he and Paula become friends and after a while, they decide to travel to Berlin together.  On the way, they discover seven people living in the woods, Jews who are hiding from the Nazis.  Realizing they cannot really make it to Berlin without being caught, they return to the shelter.

In 1941, the killings under T4 'offically' ended but it still wasn't safe for people like Paula and Kurt until the end of the war.  Unofficially, Paula writes, the killings continued.

When the war was finally over, the people responsible for T4 were tried at the Nuremberg Trials, with the exception of Dr. Philipp Bouhler, who was the head of the program and who committed suicide.

In its simplicity, LaZotte's story poem manages to convey some of the horror that Nazi Germany held for some people, but also some of the kindness that could still be found there among the people, reminding us again that not everyone was a Nazi and many didn't support their policies, like T4.

The author, Ann Clare LaZotte can well understand what it would be like to be in Paula's shoes, since she herself is also deaf.  She clearly feels very strongly about T4 and it shows throughout in her poetry. And she also knows more than a little something about German poetry: Stephanie Holderlin was named for Frederich Holderlin, a German lyric poet and two of the Jewish children that Paula and Homeless Kurt meet int he woods  are named for Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan, two of the greatest poets of the Holocaust and whose works I would definitely recommend reading some of when you have finished reading T4.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was purchased for my personal library.

More information on Hitler's T4 Program can be found here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Chinese

This past summer, my Kiddo came home from China to visit for about 2 months before moving to San Francisco.  During that two months, we all went on vacation to the Jersey shore (no, not THAT Jersey shore, we were much further south, but 10 miles north of Cape May.)

So, while we were there enjoying the sun, the surf and the beautiful weather we were lucky enough to have, Kiddo started getting homesick for China.  She remedied this by watching a program on her Ipad called Happy Chinese.  

What is Happy Chinese, you might ask?  Well, it is a kid-friendly program designed to teach the viewer Chinese and something about Chinese life and culture.  It is made in China, but there are English subtitles.  And from what I have been told, there are lots of episodes.  And, WOW, it is readily available on YouTube.  

Why do I bring up Happy Chinese?  Take a look at this photo I took:

On a beautiful summer's day, there are five people, 2 ten year old girls, a 12 year old boy, a 6 year old boy, and a 24 year old Kiddo, crowded on a bed, all watching Happy Chinese on one little Ipad and laughing like crazy.  

They were hooked in Happy Chinese!  They loved it.  They couldn't get enough.  

Meanwhile, adults (among them a reading teacher) looked on in dismay as all those novels and storybooks lovingly chosen for vacation fell by the wayside.  But I am happy to say, the Happy Chinese obsession last only a few days and the kids were back to their usual activities and books.  They still watched, but not so compulsively.  And so all the adults relearned a good lesson: when you have children who love to read, they will always return to the books if you just give them time.

Oh, by the way, at the end of two weeks, the kids were all starting to say things to each other in Chinese so all was not lost.  FYI: Two of these kids are now planning to pick Mandarin as their foreign language choice in school.

Curious about what may have hooked these kids? You can check out Happy Chinese here and lots more episodes on YouTube:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer

 Black Radishes is another book that is based on the experiences of someone in the author's family during World War II.  This kind of reality-based historical fiction often makes for an exciting, suspenseful story and Black Radishes is no exception.  According to the author's note, Susan Lynn Meyer's father, grandmother and aunt were able to escape from France after its occupation by the Nazis, so she had lots of first hand material to create this stirring novel.

Black Radishes story begins in Paris in March 1940.  As the German army gets closer to France, Gustave Becker, 11, and his parents, French Jews, firmly believe that the Maginot Line, the pride of France's border defense, will be able to hold them as bay.  But even in Paris things are changing and now Gustave is beginning to experience some anti-Semitic feelings among the people there.

But when his parents tell him that they are going to leave Paris while they wait for American visas, moving to a village called Saint-Georges in the Loire Valley, Gustave doesn't want to leave despite the anti-Jewish graffiti and the Nazi's rapid advance in Europe.  And he especially doesn't want to leave his friend Marcel Landeau and his cousin Jean-Paul.

Life in Saint-Georges is dull for Gustave, compared to Paris, with one exception.  On their first Shabbat in Saint-Georges, Gustav is pushed into a fountain by a boy his age when he goes to buy the bread for that important meal, ruining the bread, his pride and any sense of safety Gustav may have felt there.
Meanwhile, the Nazis are rapaciously invading the country and country that spring of 1940 until they finally begin their invasion of France in June.  Gustave's parents decide to leave Saint-Georges and head for the Spanish border.

But even in his father's truck, traveling is slow and difficult, the roads are clogged with so many people heading to the border.  After traveling a few days and not making much progress, the crowd was attacked by Nazi planes machine gunning them.  Gustave's parents decide to return to Saint-Georges.  As luck would have it, when France was divided in occupied and unoccupied territory in the Armistice signed between France and Germany, Saint-Georges was right on the border of the unoccupied area, meaning that Gustave and his family could live in relative safety at least for the present.

In September life settles down, somewhat.  Gustave starts school and discovers that his Shabbat tormentor is in his class.  But he also meets and makes friends with Nicole.  At home, there is nothing much eat because the Nazis take what they want from shops, homes and gardens, leaving little for anyone else.  Gustave's father decides they will cross the border in his truck into occupied France and barter for some food, using the supplies he brought with him from Paris and his own Swiss ID papers.  This works out well for them and they continue to cross the border for the next year and whenever they can, they make sure there a black radishes in view.  They use they as a way to distract the German border guards, who like to eat them with their beer.

In the Fall of 1941, Gustave's mother finally hears from her sister in Paris, who tells them in coded language that things are getting bad for Jews there, that Gustave's friend Marcel and his mother are missing and they want to get away.   Meanwhile, Nicole invites Gustave along for a bike ride to see the famous Chateau de Chenonceau, where her father works.  It is a strange day out for Gustave, but it is the beginning of the part he will play in the French Resistance, along with his father.
How will they ever get Jean-Paul and his family out of Nazi-occupied France and to safety?

Meyer's realistic novel is an interesting coming of age story set in a time when coming of age happened quickly and young.  The reader sees Gustave transformed from a boy who needs to carry his toy Monkey around in his pocket to see safe to a boy who takes dangerous action to do what is right.  I liked that Black Radishes is set in the unoccupied part of France.  So often, stories a set in the occupied part where there was so much more danger, but it is good to see that life wasn't easy in unoccupied France.  Yet, Meyers depicts a very measured amount of violence and anti-Semitism as well as the fear, tension, cold and hunger that people suffered every single day in both parts of France throughout the novel making it an excellent choice for introducing Holocaust topics to young readers.  Word is that Susan Lynn Meyer is writing a companion book which continues Gustave's adventures.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the Webster Branch of the NYPL

Black Radishes has been give the following well deserved honors:

2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Award
2011 Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book
2011 Boston Author's Club Highly Recommended Book
2011 Massachusetts Book Award Must Read Finalist
2011 Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Young Adult Top 40 Book
2013 Shortlisted for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award

The Chateau de Chenonceau that plays an important part in Black Radishes
This is book 12 of my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Today the universe is in balance...

Today I was nominated for this One Lovely Blog award from the always lovely Suzy Henderson.  Suzy and I share an interest in World War II and I always feel so appreciated whenever I hear from her.  So, thank you very much, Suzy.
But of course, this award comes with some requirements, namely

  • to include the pic in this post
  • thanks the person who nominated you
  • nominate at least 15 other blogs
  • provide 7 random things about yourself.
7 random things about me
1- I have loved Mick Jagger ever since I first discovered The Rolling Stones.
2- I have voted in every election, including primaries, since I first registered to vote.
3- I always eat some chocolate after every meal.
4- I have never read a Little House on the Prairie books.
5- I still don't completely understand social media, but just really muddle along.
6- When I was in elementary school, I ate an egg salad sandwich every single day I went to school and it is still my favorite lunch.
7- I speak fluent pig latin

My Nominations:

Well, I said the universe is in balance today and this is why.  Today is also the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and this year, there are no awards being given, but there a daily ways to participate.  So, today's topic is to list some of the blogs that you enjoy reading.  Not only will I list them, but I can give them all this One Lovely Blog Award, too.  I only wish I could give it to every blog I read.

A Bookish Libraria

YA Book Nerd

Man of la Book

AJ Arndt

Fantastic Reads

We Sat Down

LM Preston

Perogies and Gyoza

Rachel's Reading Timbits

Reading While Sliding Down a Rainbow

Storied Cities

The 3 R's - Reading, 'Riting & Research

The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

Simple Clockwork

So Much So Many So Few

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Brooklyn Book Festival

This is my first Sunday Salon post and I thought I would post about something near and dear to my heart - The Brooklyn Book Festival 2012.

Brooklyn is my hometown and it is a place that has always been a mecca for all kinds of people.  In fact, that was one of the things that made growing up there so wonderful.  Now, it has become a mecca for more and more writers and artists than ever before.  What to do about that?  Well, have a festival celebrating it.  And so, the book Brooklyn Book Festival was born in 2006.  

This year's festival begins with a full week of book related events on Monday, September 17, 2012 and held in various venues around the city, and best of all,most of them free (see full schedule here).  This is followed by a day of festivaling in downtown Brooklyn on Joralemon Street, a very nice, spacious, outdoor and easy place to get to (directions and map here.)  And, oh, by the way, within walking distance to Junior's, just in case you get a hankering for one of their famous and delicious cheesecakes in the original restaurant (and one of my favorite high school haunts.)  If not, there will be lots of food vendors in the area. Below is the official announcement:

Paul Auster, Carol Higgins Clark, Tony Danza, Jimmie Walker, Edwidge Danticat, Pete Hamill, Joyce Carol Oates, Colson Whitehead, Dennis Lehane, Esmeralda Santiago, Terry McMillan, Sapphire, Billy Collins, Earl Lovelace, Christopher Hayes, Dan Savage, Isabel Wilkerson, Pankaj Mishra, Karl Ove Knausgård, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, Adrian Tomine, Gordon Korman, R.J. Palacio, Judith Vorst, Libba Bray and many, many more to headline Festival

Fall is a beautiful time in NYC and if you are going to be in the area then, be sure to drop in on this great event and have some fun!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hitler's Angel by William Osborne

Hitler's Angel is the story of two refugees who have managed to get to England and safety.   The girl, about 14, had come with her family, Jews from Vienna, able to escape Hitler's clutches when the Nazis entered Austria in 1938.  The boy, 15, escaped by getting a ride on one of the small ships carrying out the rescue mission at Dunkirk in 1940

Now it is 1941 and they have been asked by Admiral MacPherson of the *London Controlling Section, with Prime Minister Churchill's approval,  if they would be willing to go back to Germany and rescue a young girl who has the ability to bring down Hitler.  This mission has come about after Rudolf Hess, the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, had parachuted into Scotland and was immediately arrested by the British.  The implication is that Hess gave information about this young girl.

The boy and girl, code named Otto and Leni, accept the mission and after two weeks of intense training, they parachute into Germany and begin their quest to find this mysterious child.  The girl is being help in a convent on an island in the Chiemsee in Bavaria.

Otto and Leni's trip from their landing to the island is not uneventful, but they nevertheless make it and find the girl, a nine year old named Angelika.  They even manage to escape almost undetected, because although they have followed what they were trained to do, they still left a trail of clues that become clear after the girl disappearance has been discovered.

Now, Hitler sets Reinhard Heydrich on their trail.  Heydrich was one of the cruelest, most ruthless men in the Third Reich, a Lieutenant General in the SS.  Heydrich pursues Otto, Leni and Angelika with a vengeance, eliminating anyone who gets in his way, with the help of Ludwig Straniak, a mystic and map dowsing specialist, sent personally by Hitler.

The pursuit of the three youngsters across Bavaria is an exciting, if sometime violent, adventure.  But who is Angelika and why is keeping her a secret so important to the Nazis?  And will Otto and Leni get Angelika into Britain and safety?  Is any place safe for this girl?

I came across Hitler's Angel in a review over at We Sat Down and was so intrigued by it, I immediately got a copy.  This debut novel by former Hollywood screenwriter William Osborne is action packed with thrilling nail-biting drama.  Sound like a movie - it perhaps could be one day.

Which doesn't mean this isn't a read-worthy novel.  Osborne has taken actual people and events and woven a sometimes feasible, sometimes not sp feasible story around them.  The story chapters alternate between Leni and Otto, Hitler, MacPherson and Heydrich, so the reader is privileged to all perspectives and there is never a dull moment.

I thought the characterization of Otto and Leni was excellent, that as inexperienced agents they would naturally makes mistakes, and they did.  And they are still idealistic, despite everything.  Both decide that it is wrong to let Angelika become a bargaining chip of war by the British, and agree to throw away the cyanide capsule MacPherson give them to give to Angelika to insure that she didn't end up back with the Nazis.  I did find that the implication of why Angelika was powerful enough to bring down Hitler was a bit slippery.  I would think of it and lose it immediately.  Perhaps because it was only speculative.

There is quite a bit of violence, some only to demonstrate the level of cruelty Heydrich is capable of, some as a result of being at war.  Hitler's Angel  has been compared to Robert Muchamore's Henderson's Boys series, which also has some rather violent parts to them, but my feeling is there is a level of depth lacking by comparison, perhaps making it feel too screenplayish.  But still definitely worth reading for those who like action and thrills.

Oh, yes, and there is bit of a romantic hint between Leni and Otto, which was rather nice.

Included at the end is a Historical Note detailing who was a fictional character and who came from real life.  And what is map dowsing, you might ask?  Simple if you have the gift all you do is how a pendulum over a map to locate what you are looking for.  And yes, the Nazis really did believe in things mystical and set up the Institute for Occult Warfare, headed by Straniak.

This book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was purchased for my personal library.

This map of Bavaria, found at the beginning of Hitler's Angel, follows the routes Leni and Otto took for their mission.  All the Bavarian places named in the novel actually exist.

*I have never heard of the London Controlling Section before, but it was a secret department created in 1941 to coordinate military deception.  See a fuller description of the London Controlling Section on Wikipedia

Monday, September 3, 2012


because I read lots of books besides the ones I write about here at The Children’s War, I have decided to create a companion blog.  I am calling it Randomly Reading and it will be about, well, whatever books I happen to randomly decide to read.   

The Children's War will continue as it always has.

My first post is on Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead  I hope you will come by and take a look.