Wednesday, February 10, 2016

World War II Nonfiction for Young Readers

It's day two of World War II Week.

Today we have a fabulous bunch of nonfiction books about World War II all aimed to young readers (but great for older readers too). This collection covers a wide array of topics including military history, science, athletics, Holocaust survival stories, and more.

Trapped Behind Nazi Lines by Eric Braun:
The 807th Medical Evacuation Squadron crash landed in Nazi-occupied Albania. It took them three months and a hike of over 1000 miles to reach the sea and an evacuation boat. They battled blizzards and had many close calls with Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. Along the way they were aided by local partisans and several British Special Operatives. It was really interesting to learn about the occupation in Albania and what the locals and Allies were doing to thwart the Nazis. Out March 1st, 2016.
Symphony for the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson:
This book about the life and work of Dmitri Shostakovich, the great Russian composer, is absolutely exquisite. Anderson deftly navigates the atrocities of Stalin's reign, the siege of Leningrad, the experimental art of the 1920s and 30s, and explorations of what art can do. I read most of it while listening to Shostakovich's music, which proved a powerful backdrop to the Great Terror and the siege. I am incredibly impressed by how well Anderson is able to convey music with his words. This book will make you want to listen to Shostakovich's symphonies.

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of the Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler:
Sandler's book is a history of the Japanese American experience during World War II. In addition to the several chapters devoted to the internment, Sandler also delves into the contributions of Japanese American who served as GIs and in Intelligence. Although designed to read a bit more like a textbook than a narrative, the history is aided by photographs and visuals on nearly every page.

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson:
Leon Leyson was ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. This book is a memoir of his young life. He experienced the Krakow ghetto, survived the Plaszow concentration camp, and was eventually taken under the wing of Oskar Schindler. As one of the youngest children on Schindler's famous list, Leyson's story is the perfect way to introduce young readers to that amazing story of bravery, compassion, and intelligence.

The Boys on the Boat (Young Reader's Edition) by Daniel James Brown and Gregory Mone:
Daniel James Brown tells the story of the winning oarsmen in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. All amateur athletes from the University of Washington, they had grown up in the Depression Era. The technical, strenuous, and mentally exhausting sport of rowing, Nazi Germany, and that fact that these were all amateur athletes from modest backgrounds adds to the power of this story. And, as an added bonus, you can watch the winning race on YouTube.

Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps by Andrea Warren:
Like Leon Leyson, Jack Mandelbaum was a young boy when the Nazis invaded Poland. He, however, was quickly separated from his family and sent to Blechhammer concentration camp. Left to survive on his own, Jack's tale is one of fortitude and endurance. Andrea Warren excels at writing nonfiction for young readers. She deftly conveys the tragedies and triumphs of Jack's life.

Radioactive! How Irene Curie & Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling:
Radioactive! is about the contributions that two women, Lise Meitner and Irene Curie, made to the development of the atom bomb. All the science in Winifred Conkling's book is fascinating, but what I enjoyed most about this book was learning about these female scientists who were working in an age when being a scientist was not really something that women did. On top of that, much of the book takes place in the years leading up to and during World War II, creating further complications for the pair both personally and professionally. 

Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin: 
Bomb is a book you don't want to miss. I already knew quite a bit about the building of the atomic bomb, but this book taught me a lot about the Soviet spies who stole the atomic bomb technology from the United States. There's a lot of think about or discuss in this book, such as science and morals; spies and attempts to thwart the German's ability to build the bomb; the bombing of Japan and the impact of the bomb.  

Tomorrow we'll be bringing you a group of novels that explore aspects and events of the World War II era that are a little less well known. 

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