World War II

07/07/2015 - 2:53pm
In the Garden of Beasts

It's 1933 and President Roosevelt is having a devil of a time finding someone to appoint to the post of ambassador to Germany in Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. All of the usual picks politely decline the post, as news of Germany’s foreboding political atmosphere drifts to America. Roosevelt eventually settles on William E. Dodd, a historian at the University of Chicago whose primary goal is to finish his multi-volume historical treatise on the antebellum South before he dies. By most accounts, Dodd is an odd pick for ambassador, being neither rich nor well-connected. Most ambassadors entertain lavishly during their appointments, and it is expected that the costs will come from their own coffers. Frugal Dodd immediately made waves by pledging to live solely on his meager income, almost unheard of in cosmopolitan Berlin.

Dodd naively sees the appointment as a respite from the trials of University department chairmanship and a boon of time to work on his project. He, like most Americans, is grossly uninformed about the political machinations happening in Germany, as Hitler, Göring, and Goebbels vie for power and German Jews are increasingly menaced. The entire Dodd family decides to come along to Berlin, ready for a new lark: the professor and his wife, Mattie, their son, William Jr., and their beautiful, flirtatious, 24-year-old daughter, Martha (who happens to also be fleeing the wreckage of a precipitous marriage to a banker).

08/02/2011 - 2:48pm
May I Bring a Friend by Beatrice de Regniers

"I think of writing--particularly of writing picture books--as a kind of choreography. A picture book must have pace and movement and pattern. Pictures and text should, together, create the pattern, rather than simply run parallel." --  Beatrice Schenk de Regniers*

Quick Facts:

Born:  in Lafayette, Indiana, on August 16, 1914
Favorite writing genres: picture books, folk tales, poetry, and plays
Well-known books: May I Bring a Friend?; What Can You Do with a Shoe?;  Everyone Is Good for Something;  David and GoliathIt Does Not Say Meow, and Other Animal RhymesLittle Sister and the Month Brothers
Her last name is pronounced, “drain-yay”
Education: Attended University of Illinois, 1931-33; University of Chicago, Ph.B., 1935, graduate study, 1936-37; Winnetka Graduate Teachers College, M.Ed., 1941.
Career:  Member of the Eloise Moore Dance Group, Chicago, 1942-43; copywriter, Scott Foresman, publishers, Chicago, 1943-44; welfare officer, UNRRA, Egypt, 1944-46; copywriter, American Book Company, New York, 1948-49; director of educational materials, American Heart Association, New York, 1949-61; editor, Lucky Book Club, Scholastic Book Services, New York, 1961-81.
Awards:  May Children's Spring Book Festival honor book, New York Herald Tribune, 1958, for Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats;  Boys' Clubs Junior Book Award, 1960, for The Snow Party;  Indiana Authors Day Award, honorable mention, 1961, for The Shadow Book;  Caldecott Award, 1965, for May I Bring a Friend? ‘s illustrations by Beni Montresor; certificate of excellence, American Institute of Graphic Arts, for communicating with children;  Brooklyn Art Books for Children citation, 1973, for Red Riding Hood: Retold in Verse for Boys and Girls to Read Themselves.
Memberships: Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Dramatists Guild, PEN, Society of Children's Book Writers.
Died:  March 1, 2000, from a stroke at her home in Washington, D.C.

 

08/23/2010 - 7:35am

This is Week 3 of a 12-Week series of blog posts reviewing new young adult books. Check back each Monday for a new review.

"Where they burn books, they will end by burning human beings." - Heinrich Heine

This is the opening quote in Ashes, the story of thirteen-year-old Gabrielle Schramm who is living in Berlin in 1932 during the turbulent days of Hitler's rise to power.

Hitler has not yet seized control when the story begins, but there are signs of what's to come. Sightings of Hitler's private army and his personal guard, the "SA" and the "SS," are becoming more frequent, as are attacks on Jewish neighborhoods, businesses and synagogues.

For the most part, Garbrielle is a typical thirteen-year-old girl. She goes to school, talks about movies and movie stars with her best friend Rosa, and occasionally gets in trouble at school for having her nose stuck in a book during math class. Gabrielle is a serious book lover. Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Helen Keller, Mark Twain ... she devours them all. She's already lost two of her treasured books to her math teacher Herr Doktor Berg.

09/29/2011 - 2:21pm

Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping "suite," collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death.

09/29/2011 - 2:09pm

"As Hitler's Third Reich crumbles, an aristocratic Prussian woman and her child flee west away from the approaching Russian army. Eventually they form an unlikely alliance with a Jewish man escaping from the concentration camps." (Book Description)

09/28/2011 - 1:03pm

As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island.

03/29/2010 - 11:48am

Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter poster encouraged women to roll up their sleeves and get on the job in factories to make munitions and equipment to supply American troops in World War II.

11/12/2009 - 8:58am

On this day, we remember the sacrifice of soldiers in England, the United States, and France who fought and died in the Great War, the war to end all wars. While their noble goal is not yet realized, their noble deeds continue to be honored from the 1921 burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery to our daily remembrances of those who have been or are in the armed services.

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