Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, it is the end of another reading year and time to wrap up my 2013 reading challenges.  Each year, I try to be a little less overly enthusiastic in the number of challengers I chose to participate in.  Interestingly, this year was almost a complete repeat of last year.

I always like to join in the challenge hosted by War Through the Generations and this year's choice was  the American Revolution.  I committed to reading 4-10 books/films and actually completed 4.  They are

1- Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi
2- Felicity, An American Girl 1775 (Film)
3- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
4- Friends of Liberty by Beatrice Gormley

The second challenge I participated in was the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry.  Now, this should have been easy peasy, but I keep forgetting to count the books I have read, so I committed to reading 15 and actually remembered to count the following 15:

1- A Parachute in the Lime Tree by Annemarie Neary
2- The Long Way Home by Margot Benary-Isbert
3- Sophia's War by Avi
4- Tamar, a Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal by Mal Peet
5- Passing through Havana by Felicia Rosshandler
6- His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal
7- Auslander by Paul Dowswell
8- Rising Sun, Falling Star by Vickie Hall
9- The Bear Makers by Andrea Cheng
10- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
11- The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax
12- N or M? by Agatha Christie
13- The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartmett
14- I Go by Sea, I Go by Land by P.L. Travers
15- Leaving China by James McMullan

I again participated in Rose City Reader's European Reading Challenge.  I chose to read 5 or more books and 6:

1- A Parachute in the Lime Tree by Annemarie Neary (Ireland)
2- Tamar, a Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal by Mal Peet (Holland)
3- His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal (Germany)
4- Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent by Pearl Witherington Cornioley edited by Kathryn J. Atwood (France)
5- The Bear Makers by Andrea Cheng (Hungary)
6- The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax (Poland)

I signed up to read 6 or more mysteries at Crusin' with the Cozies hosted by Socrates Book Reviews but only managed to remember to list 3:

1- His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal
2- Nancy Drew: The Quest of the Missing Map by Carolyn Keene
3- N or M? by Agatha Christie

And last but not least is the Pre-1960 Classic Children's Books Reading Challenge hosted by Turning the Pages for any amount of books desired:

1- The Long Way Home by Margot Benary-Isbert
2- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
3- Biggles Defies the Swastika by Captain W.E. Johns (1941)
4- The Quest of the Missing Map by Carolyn Keene

I see I had lots of crossovers on these challenges, something I try not to do, but end up doing nevertheless.  I did lose a lot of reading time this December.  I had a bad case of bronchitis and it was also the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, which you may know touched my family in a  very personal way and it was a difficult time for us, especially because Christmas here was so tied to Daniel and his brother and sister.  

I haven't made a decision on reading challenges for 2014, but I am leaning towards a few.  I only wish there were more challenges geared towards kids and YA literature.  Maybe I should think about that.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood written and illustrated by James McMullan

When James McMullan's grandparents, James and Lily McMullan arrived in China in 1888, it was with the intention of doing missionary work among the Chinese people in Cheefoo in the Shantung Peninsula (now called Yantai, in Shandong province).  But it didn't take long for that to change.  When they discovered that poor, destitute and hungry families would leave their baby girls to die rather than feeding them, they began saving them and raising them, soon building an orphanage and school for the growing girls.  The girls learned to speak English and how to do cutwork embroidery and before long, the McMullans had quite a busy commercial enterprise going.

Into this were born their own four children, who were raised in China, but sent abroad for further education.  The youngest son, James, studied music in Vancouver, Canada and married a Canadian girl named Rose.  James returned to China with Rose and in 1934, James McMullan Jr. was born.

Life was pretty good for the family, until one day the tortured dead body of a Chinese man washes up on the beach and young James begins to understand the fear and dread that has been underlying life in China since 1931.  Then, in 1937, the Japanese Army arrived in Cheefoo and life changed.  Road blocks were set up and anyone without papers suddenly faced an uncertain future.  And worse still, anyone without proof of having been inoculated against Cholera, was injected on the spot with the same needle used for everyone else.

By 1941, it is decided James and his mother would leave China, though his father is not allowed to go and instead enlists in the British Army.  Leaving China begins a round the world journey that will take James from Cheefoo (Yantai) to Shanghai to Western Canada, New York, Bombay (now Mumbai), Srinigar, Darjeeling, Calcutta (now Kolkata), Chungking (now Chonqing) , Shanghai and back to Western Canada, all while still a child.

James only saw his father once during the war, in Darjeeling, India when he was about to be enrolled in St. Paul's School there  It wasn't a good visit and sadly, James Sr. was later killed in a air crash.

Leaving China is certainly a different kind of memoir.  It is really a series of 54 one page memories with a corresponding illustration of the facing page.  The memories are simple and personal, yet they tell a story not only about James McMullan's life but they also give a picture of what life was like in China during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Like the memories, the full page painted illustrations are simple, yet have a quality that goes much deeper than the actual picture.  I wasn't surprised to recognize the artwork since I have been looking at Jame McMullan's wonderful Lincoln Center theater posters for years now.  McMullan wrote that for Leaving China, he wanted to catch the dream-like quality his memories held for him and in that respect, he has certainly succeeded.

As a memoir with a difference, this is certainly one that many readers will appreciate.  Don't be fooled into thinking that because there are so many illustrations, this is a children's picture book.  It is definitely  a book for older readers, and a wonderful supplement for anyone interested in Chinese history and/or World War II.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was an E-ARC received from NetGalley

This is book 15 of my 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sunday Funnies # 13: Batman and Robin: Alfred Claus

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas

And from the first Christmas after the War:
Batman Christmas Sunday Comic Strips published December 16, 1945 and December 23, 1945:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Saturday, December 21, 2013

From the Archives #27: I Go by Sea, I Go by Land by P. L. Travers

By now, you have all probably heard of a new Disney film called Saving Mr. Banks about getting Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers to agree to letting Walt Disney make a movie of her most popular book.  But P. L. Travers wrote lots of other books besides her Mary Poppins novels and one of those books covered the three month period August to October 1940 during WWII.

I Go by Sea, I Go by Land was written in 1941 and is the story of the evacuation of two English children, Sabrina Lind, 11 and her brother James Lind, 8.  The first part of the novel, I Go by Sea, begins when Sabrina is given a diary to record her adventures once it is decided that she and James are to be evacuated by ship to America now that the Germans are actually dropping bombs on England.

After detailed accounts of getting passports, tickets, packing and goodbyes, the two children arrive in London for the train that will take them to the dock to board ship (not named but they are most likely leaving from Liverpool).  At the London train, along comes a family friend named Pel, who writes book, with her baby son Romulus.  Pel will be escorting the children to America.  Sabrina and James aren't the only evacuees on the ship - there are over 300 others being sent to Canada by the British government.

Sabrina is an observant child, giving more detailed accounts of sea sickness, other passengers, meeting and befriending one of the government evacuees, and of the convoys that are escorting them across the Atlantic.  It is a long but uneventful journey and when they arrive in Canada, the second part of the novel, I Go by Land, begins.

After some sightseeing in Canada, Pel, Sabrina, James and Romulus fly to La Guardia Airport in New York, where Sabrina and James are met by their mother's old friend, Aunt Harriet and her husband, Uncle George and their children Georgina, 13, and Washington, 17.  Pel and Romulus are staying in Manhattan, but Aunt Harriet lives in the suburbs.

The rest of the novel is Sabrina's description of the touristy things that they do for the first few weeks before school starts.  Their visit to the Statue of Liberty, and to the 1939 World's Fair just before it closed because of the war.  These visits are wonderfully detailed by Sabrina and totally worth reading, especially since she describes walking up to the Statue of Liberty's crown, something that visitors haven't been allowed to do in a long time.

The rest of the novel is about school, worrying about everyone back in England and ends on a rather upsetting note on James's 9th birthday when they are told by Pel that their beloved old home has been partially damaged by a bomb, though everyone is safe.

This is, indeed, an odd book.  There is not a real story, just descriptions of what happens for three months.  Yet, it is written with such historically realistic detail that it can draw you in completely.  In fact, it is so realistic, and given the friend's name was Pel, I did a little research and discovered that P. L. Travers did indeed travel to New York in August 1940, though only with her own son Camillus.  There were about 300 evacuees on board ship at the time, bound for Canada but Travers had nothing to do with them.  So, she only have to invent 11 year old Sabrina to turn her experience into an interesting children's story. And it is truly a window into a short but pivotal time in WWII for civilians.

And Travers did an excellent job of it, especially since, unlike Pel, she was not a happy, easy going person and Camillus was not the happy, quiet, content baby that Romulus is.

I Go by Sea, I Go by Land has lots of black and while pencil illustrations by Gertrude Hermes, an artist that Traversactually befriended on board ship in 1940 and remained friends for a while after arriving in America.

The title, I Go by Sea, I Go by Land is take from an old English bedtime prayer.

As much as this is an interesting book for young readers, you should be warned - the adults in the book smoke and have cocktails and a few more things are said that may not be PC by today's standards.

This book is recommended for readers age 11+
This book was purchased for my personal library

This is book 14 of my 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Hit Parade #2: I'll Be Home for Christmas

Because of copyright laws, music can't be included, but if you click this 
you can listen to the original song on YouTube

If White Christmas was sentimental chart topping holiday song of 1942, you might expect that I'll Be Home for Christmas would have filled that same slot when it came out in 1943.  After all, it was written specifically as a wartime Christmas song.  1943 was the third Christmas of the war for America, and the fifth for the other Allied and Axis countries.  By now, people were feeling the full impact of the war as more and more telegrams arrived at more and more front doors and blue stars on service flags* hanging in windows were changed to gold stars and that may have played a part in the songs popularity.

The lyrics to I'll Be Home for Christmas were written in 1942 by James "Kim" Gannon.  According to Ace Collins, Gannon was inspired by what he saw around him in Brooklyn:
The streets were decorated, trees were sold on corner lots, and Santas still rang their bells and smiled at children, but the war had cast a pall over the holiday.  It was hard to think of presents or peace on earth...To make it all worse, no one was completely sure that the United States and its allies could even win the war. (pg 92)
When he had finished, he brought the song to Walter Kent, who has already had success with his hit song "White Cliffs of Dover"and it was set to music.  Bing Crosby recorded I'll Be Home for Christmas on October 4, 1943 and it was released shortly after that.

Gannon would have seemed to have captured the desires of those on the home front as well as those on the front lines when he when penned the first 11 lines of I'll Be Home for Christmas but then came the melancholy reality in the last line: "But only in my dreams."  Yet, this seemingly perfect wartime Christmas song never was the hit that White Christmas became, despite Crosby's lilting baritone.  For the most part, it occupied third place on Billboard's charts, and doesn't seem to have made it way to The Hit Parade's top weekly countdown.

I'll Be Home for Christmas may not have been a Number 1 hit at home, but, at Christmas USO shows on both fronts, it was the most requested song by those stationed overseas during the war.  This isn't surprising - the lyrics read like a letter being written by a soldier to his family back home:

I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.

After the war, I'll Be Home for Christmas was heard much anymore, not until 1965.  Since then, though it still lags behind White Christmas in overall popularity, it has continued to be recorded by various artists.

The copyright for I'll Be Home for Christmas was granted to Gannon and Kent, but if you look closely at the original sheet music, you can see a third name - Buck Ram.  There was some controversy over the original song's ownership and if you are interested, you can find it nicely explained over at Steyn Online.

*A service flag with one or more blue stars meant that someone in that household was serving in the Armed Forces.
A service flag with one or more gold stars meant that someone in that household had been killed in action.

Collins, Ace.  Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Izzy: The Christmas That Almost Wasn't by Budge Wilson

It is 1941, Canada has already been at war with Germany for two years.  In the small village of Granite Cove, Nova Scotia,  it is freezing, but today, 11 year old Isabel Piblicover, or Izzy as she is known, doesn't care.  She and her younger brother Joey are going into Halifax with their father and who knows, maybe they will be able to have a milkshake or see a movie - both such rare treats now that the war is on.  In fact, Izzie has only had one milkshake in her entire life and Joey has had none.

But Halifax proves to be a disappointment - it is crowded with people serving in the Armed Services and they always get special treatment.  The street cars, the luncheonette, the movie theater were full of men in uniform, which means no milkshake, no movie.  Still, Izzy and Joey groused about their disappointment for days, angering their dad, who had wanted to serve his country in the navy, but he had been turned down because of his age.  Nevertheless, the grousing continued.

By now, it is only a few weeks till Christmas, and to give Izzy and Joey something to take they thoughts off their disappointment and give them something to look forward to, their parents decide to let them plan the Christmas party.  How wonderful!  Izzy's grandparents are coming and so are her best friend's relatives and they will all celebrate together - a rare event with the war on.

So Izzy, Joey, and best friend Jasper set about planning the best Christmas party ever, even if they do always have to watch Jasper's little sister while they work, or find warm places to make decorations without parents around.  Slowly but surely, using imagination and innovation, it all comes together.  But so do warnings of a terrible snowstorm - predicted to be worse than any in years and years.

Izzy refuses to let that spoil things for them, but when snowflakes start falling, she begins to get worried. With good cause -  in the end, the village is covered with snow, with high drifts everywhere.  And none of the guests can make it to the party.  Is Izzy's party ruined?  It looks that way until a small boat with three sailors is spotted coming towards shore.

Can Christmas be saved?

The Christmas That Almost Wasn't is part of the Our Canadian Girl series.  It is similar to the Dear America or American Girl series; they are fictional stories about girls, and are set in different parts of Canada at different time periods.

This is the first of four books about Izzy.  It is historically accurate and quite interesting.  Budge Wilson describes the sacrifices and the make-do spirit that helped to keep people going, though I can't say my mother would have been OK when she discovered that I had dyed two good white sheets red without asking permission, as Izzy does to make tablecloths large enough to cover the tables.

Realistic details, however, always make a book interesting and The Christmas That Almost Wasn't gives us a good look at life in Canada.  I think Americans sometimes forget that Canada entered WW2 in 1939, along with England because it was part of the British Empire.  Living in a small village, Izzy experiences rationing and other wartime privations and restrictions.  She is always aware that friends have lost loved ones and others are off still fighting.  But she wouldn't have experiences the crowds of service people that she saw in Halifax.  And, like many people living along coastlines, Izzy was aware of the possibility of an invasion by the Germans, and was one of the many children who scoured the sea looking for the periscopes of Nazi submarines peeking out of the ocean.  These details of home front life in coastal Canada are what makes the book so interesting and different.

I did have a problem with Izzy and Joey being allowed to plan the Christmas party to stop their grumbling about the trip to Halifax.  It felt too much like bad behavior being rewarded.   But in all fairness, kindness and hospitality also prove to be Izzy's most valuable assets.  I did think overall that The Christmas That Almost Wasn't was a well-written, engaging book for young readers, Canadian and otherwise and a nice addition of books about Christmas on the home front.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my personal library

To learn more about Izzy and her life, visit her home page HERE

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Mother's Secret by J. L. Witterick

My Mother's Secret is a fictionalized version of a real Holocaust story.  It is told in five parts, by four different narrators, each telling their experience of the war.  The first narrator, Helena, introduces us to her abusive, Nazi supporting father and her kind, gentle mother, Franciszka Halamajowa.  We learn that her mother leaves her husband and returns to her native Poland with Helena and son Damian.  She has secretly saved enough money to buy a little house where she can grow vegetables and raise some chickens and pigs.  Both Damian and Helena go to work, while their mother stays home.

But soon Poland is invaded and, their town, Sokal, is taken over by Russians, as per the non-aggression Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact made between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.  Now, with the world at war, life becomes more difficult for everyone.

But by the end of 1940, Hitler disregards the pact and orders the German army to begin their invasion the Soviet Union.  Sokal is now occupied by German soldiers and suddenly the lives of its Jewish population are put in jeopardy.  Jews are rounded up and put in a ghetto surrounded by barbed wire.

Damian begins working for the resistance, delivering food and supplies to Jewish partisans.  Helena works as a secretary in a factory and soon, she and the factory head, Casmir, fall in love.  Franciszka has made many friends in Sokal selling her vegetables and eggs to.

But by 1943, Damian has been killed making a delivery to the partisans and Franciszka is hiding 15 people in her small house - two Jewish families and 1 German soldier incapable of killing.  Not only that, she has the guts to entertain the Nazi commander at her home with delicious home cooked German meals.  Clever Franciszka knows this will get her money to buy enough food to help feed the people she is hiding and make her neighbors think she has such good connections with the Nazis in Sokal that they will be quiet even if they suspect something is up.

My Mother's Secret is a well-written compelling story.  And it is a wonderful example of how one person can make a big difference in the world.  I really like the rotating perspectives that J.K. Witterick chose to write the book in because it gives the reader some insight into what everyone's life was like before, during and after the war and how they ended up in Franciszka's house.  Interestingly enough, however, we do not hear from Franciszka herself, perhaps because no one knows why she did what she did.  For my part, I think it is just simple human compassion.

One of the incredible things brought out in this story is that no one Franciszka is hiding knows about the other people she is hiding until they come out of their hiding places at the end of the war.

The other incredible thing is that of the 6,000 Jews who had lived in Sokal, 30 survived and 15 of them were Franciska's Jews (there is nothing about Franciszka actually hiding a German soldier).

Not surprisingly, Franciszak and Helena were named to Yad Vashem's list of The Righteous Among the Nations for what they did.

This book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was an ARC provided by the publisher

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Your Hit Parade #1: White Christmas

Because of copyright laws, music can't be included, but if you click this 
you can listen to the original song on YouTube

Back on April 20, 1935, a radio program called Your Hit Parade debuted on Saturday nights.  Each week, the program would play the 15 most popular songs of that week, performed by live artists, though not the person who originally recorded the songs.  Regardless, it didn't take long before Your Hit Parade was itself a hit.

It shouldn't be surprising that during WWII, Your Hit Parade was an very important part of life, not only on the home front, but it was also head overseas and on the front lines thanks to Armed Forces Radio Service.  

In Britain, the BBC was also broadcast popular music to their forces fighting in Europe and to the war-torn home front.  Even the Germans recognized the morale building value of shared music and broadcast their own version of The Hit Parade in a weekly program called the Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht, also heard at home and on the front lines.

One of the most popular songs of the war was actually one that wasn't really considered really great by the composer, Irving Berlin, and the original singer, Bing Crosby.  White Christmas was originally just another song on a movie sound track, written sometime between 1940-1941, and it was supposed to be  ironic.  It was first introduced on the radio on Christmas Eve 1941 by Bing Crosby and later released on July 30, 1942.  At first, White Christmas didn't go anywhere, but by October 1942, thanks to radio plugs, it went to first place on The Hit Parade's weekly countdown and stayed there for 10 weeks, and was in first place on Billboard's charts for 11 weeks.

White Christmas on Billboard's charts October 1942 and December 1942
(click to enlarge) 
White Christmas is a simple song, but despite the opening words, it became a very popular war song because it appealed to people emotions with it melancholy nostalgia for the ideal long ago Christmas that, in reality, most people never experienced.   The opening lines, which make fun of Hollywood, are sometimes still recorded but not often.  In fact, Berlin had these cut from all sheet music after seeing how popular the song became in 1942:  

The sun is shining.
The grass is green.
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
In Beverly Hill, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth,
And I'm longing to be up north.

In 1943, White Christmas won the Academy Award for Best Song.  The movie it was written for, Holiday Inn, was not about the war at all,  but when it was remade in 1954 and called, not surprisingly, White Christmas, it was about two former Army buddies trying to help out their former General with his so-far-not-too-successful Vermont hotel.  I have to admit, I like White Christmas more than Holiday Inn, but I think that has more to do with Rosemary Clooney being in it than anything else.  Although, I do like Fred Astaire's tap dancing in Holiday Inn.

Because the original recording of White Christmas was damaged, the Bing Crosby version that is most often heard now is a 1947 recording.  To date, it has sold over 50 million copies and, according to Wikipedia, there are more than 500 different recorded versions of it.

Original 1942 White Christmas sheet music,
complete with Buy War Bonds stamp
Your Hit Parade remained a popular radio show all through the 1940 and on July 10, 1950 became a weekly television show using the same countdown format.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Bag of Marbles by Joseph Joffo, adapted by Kris, illustrated by Vincent Bailly and translated by Edward Gauvin

After fleeing Russia because of the pogroms there,  Joseph Joffo grandfather and his family settled in Paris and quickly assimilated.  The family grew and prospered.  Jo's father became a successful barber, married and had 4 sons.  But, in 1941, it looks like things are going to get bad in Paris now that the Nazis have taken over the city.

Jo, 10, and his older brother Maurice are forced to wear yellow stars to school, as is every Jew in Paris.  Jo resents it and when a friend offers to trade a bag of marbles for the star, Jo jumps at the chance.  But even without the star, the fact that he and Maurice are Jewish causes a fight in the schoolyard.  Arriving home, bloodied and bruised, their father makes the decision to send the boys to Vichy France, the southern free zone to stay with their older brothers.

Armed with 5,000 francs and the addresses of safe places to find help, the boys are sent on a dangerous journey through occupied France by themselves.  Using only their wits, and sometimes making poor judgements, they travel by train, bus and foot, all the while having to evade the Nazis and occasionally finding a kind person willing to help them.

Yes, they make it to Menton, but the story doesn't end there.  Remember, they left their parents in Paris, who promised they would shortly follow them to Menton.  But, word comes one day that they were picked up by the Nazis and re in an internment camp.  And the boys are themselves picked by the Nazis when they unknowingly enter a resistance center during a raid.  Arrested, they are questioned by the Gestapo and must convince them that they are not Jews despite being circumcised.

Will they succeed and will they be reunited with their parents and be a family once again?

I really wanted to love this graphic story, particularly since there are not that many good ones for kids about WW2, fiction or nonfiction (exceptions are Carla Jablonski's Resistance trilogy, Miné Okubo's early work Citizen 13660, and Lily Renée, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins, to name a few reviewed here).  But I just didn't love it, I only liked it.

And what made me like it was really the artwork.  Graphics don't have a lot of time and space to tell a story, so the reader must rely on the illustrations to help carry it along.  And Vincent Bailly's colorful, detailed watercolor illustrations really do just that, and along the way they impart exactly what the characters are feeling at any given point - happiness, sadness, fear, anger, pleasure.  A quick, simple facial expression says so much here.  Bailly's illustrations are brilliant.    

But alas, at times the story was just dull.  It lacked some of the poignancy you might expect from a story about two young boys sent out into a very dangerous world on a long journey towards safety.  Though I could read what the boys felt by the look on their faces, I never felt those same feelings.  In fact, I never felt any emotional pull in the story and never really connected with Jo and his brother.  I can't help but wonder what the original memoir written by Joseph Joffo back in 1974 was like.  That was a book written for an adult audience, and this version of A Bag of Marbles was rewritten for a younger reader.  Perhaps sometimes was lost in the shuffle.

I kept waiting for the titular bag of marbles to make another appearance in the story but the only part it played was the schoolyard trade and I am still scratching my head over why an obviously not Jewish boy would want the star that Jo was wearing.

On the plus side, there is a very nice map showing the route Jo and Maurice took to safety and their modes of transportation.  There is also a glossary of French words used.  Interestingly, when German is used, the translation is at the bottom of the page.  And there is a nice Afterward that explains what France was like under German occupation.

A Bag of Marbles is a nice book for readers who are really interested in the various experiences of Jews during WW2.  It would be a nice supplemental text for teaching the Holocaust, as well.  It will really appeal to all the kids sitting on the floor in Barnes & Noble across the country after school reading graphic books with their friends (and I don't say to be snarky - those knowledgeable kids have helped me find something I wanted on more than one occasion).

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was purchased for my personal library

Sequential Highway has a very interesting interview with the illustrator Vincent Bailly about working on comics in general and on A Bag of Marbles in particular.