Bruning, John Robert, Jr. Elusive Glory: African-American Heroes of World War II (Avisson Press Inc., First edition, 2001).
The premise of this slim volume is that African-American men who fought for the U.S. during World War II struggled against immense odds to overcome institutional prejudice and pave the way for a future desegregated military. Fifteen individuals who served in the ground forces or were pilots in the air corps are profiled. The best-known figure is Ben Davis, Jr., who flew scores of combat missions with the Tuskegee Red Tails. Short chapters show how each of these individuals contributed during their actual time in combat rather than covering their entire lives. Through introductions to the two sections and an epilogue, Bruning ties these stories together to emphasize a greater message. These men exemplified courage in fighting for a country that had not yet recognized them as equal members but would later honor them for their bravery and sacrifice. They were pioneers in getting the U.S. government to change the face of our fighting forces to represent Americans of all backgrounds-based on merit, not ethnicity. (Janet Woodward for School Library Journal)
Butterworth, Emma Macalik. As the Waltz Was Ending (Scholastic Press, 1985).
An autobiographical account of a young girl whose ballet career with the Vienna State Opera was interrupted by the invasion of the Nazis and who later had to fight for her life during the Russian occupation.
Carter, Walter Ford and Terry Golway. No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love: A Son's Journey to Normandy (Smithsonian Books, 2004).
Walter Ford Carter's father, a family doctor, died during World War II in Normandy when the author was four years old and his brother seven. His mother Fernie was devastated. She never remarried and didn't speak about her husband, Norval Carter. Walter Ford grew up in West Virginia knowing his father as 'a smiling face behind glass ... forever thirty-two years old.' He rightly calls war widows like his mother 'uncelebrated heroes of that celebrated age.'
Charlesworth, Monique. The Children’s War (Knopf, 2005).
This is the story of two children caught in the midst of war. It is 1939 and thirteen-year-old Ilse, half-Jewish, has been sent out of Germany by her Aryan mother to a place of supposed safety. Her journey takes her from the labyrinthine bazaars of Morocco to Paris, a city made hectic at the threat of Nazi invasion. At the same time in Germany, Nicolai, a boy miserably destined for the Nazi Youth movement, finds comfort in the friendship of Ilse’s mother, the nursemaid hired to take care of his young sister. Gripping and poignant, The Children’s War is a stunning novel of wartime lives, of parents and children, of adventure and self-discovery.
Childress, Mark. V for Victor (Random House Publishing Group, 1998).
Alabama, 1942. The war is everywhere, but Victor—a sixteen-year old boy sent by his father to care for his dying grandmother on a lonely island in Mobile Bay—can only dream of it. Then he wakes one amazing night to a thunderous roar from the Bay, and watches as a thug burns his boat. He also discovers a decomposing corpse, witnesses a near-seduction . . . and sees the ominous shadow of an enemy submarine surfacing at night.
Coerr, Eleanor. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Putnam Juvenile, Reissue edition, 1999).
Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic--the star of her school's running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the "atom bomb disease," Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Recalling a Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan.
Cooper, Susan. Dawn of Fear (Harcourt Paperbacks, 2007).
Derek and his friends, living outside of London during World War II, regard the frequent air raids with more fascination than fear--after all, they can barely remember a time without them. The boys are thrilled when school is canceled for a few days due to a raid, giving them time to work on their secret camp. But when their camp is savagely attacked by a rival gang from the neighborhood, the harsh reality of the violence surrouding them suddenly crashes down upon Derek and his friends—and a long night of bombing changes his feelings about the war forever.
Cormier, Robert. Heroes (Laurel Leaf, 2000).
Francis Joseph Cassavant is eighteen. He has just returned home from the Second World War, and he has no face. He does have a gun and a mission: to murder his childhood hero. Francis lost most of his face when he fell on a grenade in France. He received the Silver Star for bravery, but was it really an act of heroism? Now, having survived, he is looking for a man he once admired and respected, a man adored by many people, a man who also received a Silver Star for bravery. A man who destroyed Francis's life.
Cormier, Robert. Other Bells for Us to Ring (Laurel Leaf, 2000).
Darcy is having a tough time. Her father is missing in action, her mother retreats into migraines and silence, and her best friend Kathleen Mary disappears overnight. Also, Darcy, a Unitarian, has a crisis of faith that she attempts to resolve with a secret visit to an elderly, miracle-wielding Catholic nun. While Cormier effectively evokes the streets and tenements of Darcy's World War II Frenchtown, the characters he places there never come to life. Flat and two-dimensional, they fail to engage readers' sensibilities. The most "alive" vignettes in this low-key title are the most sensational--the suicide leap of a disturbed young woman and the violent outbursts of Kathleen Mary's alcoholic father stand out with shocking clarity. The least affecting moments are those that are supposed to be the most touching; Darcy's visit with the elderly, dying nun and the return of her father are so understated they elicit little or no sympathetic response. As Darcy's voice does not mesh with her characterization as an 11-year-old innocent, it is never bright enough to light the dark environs in which Cormier places her. The news of Kathleen Mary's death and the "miracle of the bells" that accompanies it have no spiritual resonance--there is little in the characterization or plot to make this Christmas miracle real for readers. Kathleen Mary's climactic miracle message to Darcy is unfortunately unbelievable, and, symptomatic of this book, without emotional impact. (Janice M. Del Negro, Chicago Public Library for Publisher’s Weekly)
Davies, Jacqueline. Where the Ground Meets the Sky (Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2004).
Twelve-year-old Hazel Moore and her mother arrive at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to be reunited with her physicist father. It is 1944, and war is raging on five continents. Hazel doesn't know why her family has come to this mysterious, remote place. She doesn't know what her father is working on, night and day, in the secret laboratory. But she's determined to find out. Will she be able to uncover the mystery of Los Alamos? And how will the secrets of this place change her family forever?
Denenberg, Barry. Early Sunday Morning: The Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows, Hawaii 1941 (Scholastic, 2003).
In her diary, twelve-year-old Amber describes moving to Hawaii in 1941 and experiencing the horror of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Denenberg, Barry. One Eye Laughing, The Other Weeping (Scholastic, 2000).
During the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Austria, twelve-year-old Julie escapes to America to live with her relatives in New York City.
Denenberg, Barry. The Journal of Ben Uchida (Scholastic, 1999).
Twelve-year-old Ben Uchida keeps a journal of his experiences as a prisoner in a Japanese internment camp in Mirror Lake, California, during World War II.
Dillon, Elis. Children of Bach (Faber and Faber Ltd., 1995).
Dillon, a prolific Irish author, uses the backdrop of WW II Budapest to stage a riveting drama about Jewish children who escape the Nazis. Peter, only 14, finds himself in charge of his younger brother and sister and the sister's friend when they come home from school and discover that their parents, famous musicians, have been arrested by the Nazis along with other Jews in the community. Aware of the perils that loom over them, the children at first seek refuge in music as they puzzle out their options. But when their Aunt Eva miraculously returns (she's outwitted her would-be captors), they enlist the help of a neighbor and hatch a daring plan. Courage coexists with human vulnerability, while the ironies of the title are exploited subtly and to excellent effect. Dillon may fail to suggest the extent of Jewish suffering at the hands of Germans and indifferent Hungarians--the enemy here is rather too easily deceived, the neighbors all willing to risk their own lives, the children all but unaffected by the disappearance and probable death of their parents--but she sustains the suspense so well and engenders such concern for her characters that their plight assumes paramount importance for the reader as well. (Publisher’s Weekly)
Dowswell, Paul. True Stories of the Second World War (Usborne, November 2003).
Recounting the stories of some of the most heroic, devastating and pivotal moments of World War II, this book gives young readers a strong sense of the suffering, but also the bravery involved in the war with an approachable insight into this conflict.