Those Who Risked Their Lives in WWII
Read about the underground resistance movement and brave individuals who helped shelter Jews, from the perspectives of both the rescuers and the survivors. These books are an excellent complement to history units on World War II. This list is excerpted from Dr. Joan Kaywell's latest volume in her series Adolescent Literacy as a Complement to the Classics.
The Good Liar
Age Level: 9-12
Three girls trying to complete a school assignment on World War II contact Marcel Delarue, an artist who grew up in France when it was occupied by the German army. In the letter he writes to the girls — that makes up the bulk of the book — Marcel describes how he and his two brothers, Ren and Pierre, took pride in their ability to successfully tell outrageous lies; the boys even befriend a Nazi soldier. What Marcel doesn't know, though, is that the best liar in the family is his mother, who was hiding a Jewish family in their rural home for over a year without the boys knowing it. This sometimes humorous, sometimes sad story shows how ordinary people can become extraordinary heroes.
Postcards from No Man's Land
Age Level: 16-18
Jacob Todd, a British soldier wounded in World War II, falls in love with Geertrui, a Dutch teenager who hides him from his pursuers in 1944. Now his 17-year-old grandson, also named Jacob Todd, has traveled to Holland to visit the grave of the grandfather he never met. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, Jacob is not prepared for the perplexing experiences of the city, seeing Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, or for the shocking story that reveals family secrets. Two stories, Jacob Todd's and Geertrui's, from two different times are intertwined throughout the book and raise some very thought-provoking questions.
Rescuers Defying the Nazis
Age Level: 12-14
Rescuers Defying the Nazis actually includes three short texts: "In the Ghettos," "Rescuers," and "Hidden Children" replete with photo documentation. The stories of Jewish teenagers who were assisted by gentiles in Poland, Denmark, and Germany are told as well as the harrowing accounts written by the courageous survivors of the Lodz, Theresienstadt, and Warsaw ghettos.
Number the Stars
Age Level: 9-12
The narrator, 10-year-old Annemarie, and her family defy the Nazis as Danish Jews are gathered for transport to death camps. They help Annemarie's best friend, Ellen Rosen, and her family escape to Sweden. The horror of World War II is mitigated by the limited view of the narrator, yet the courage of individuals shines through for a breathtaking look at this time in history.