World War II -- fiction

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Cover to Life after Life

I love a book with an inventive narrative structure and, like Scheherazade, Kate Atkinson has 1,001 plots in her novel, Life after Life. Ursula Todd, born on a snowy night in 1910 to banker Hugh Todd and his aristocratic wife Sylvie dies and lives--over and over again.  But this is a novel not just about reincarnation but also about how a writer writes and makes choices. The chapters reveal the choices a writer--or a human being--makes and how it changes the path a life takes.

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

In When the Emperor Was Divine, Julie Otsuka uses a sparse, lyrical writing style to illuminate the psychological effects of one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. The novel opens with a portrait of an ordinary woman going about her daily chores in Berkeley, California. While en route to her local library, she sees something troubling: Evacuation Order No. 19. After reading the notice, she abandons her errands and begins preparing for life in an unfamiliar locale.

At first, the sequence of events feels dystopian or apocalyptic – the world is ending and a family is forced to prepare to face the unknown. But this narrative is a dramatization of history, not a speculative tale of the future. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government began to suspect that American citizens of Japanese ancestry might harbor allegiance to Japan. In 1942, these paranoid fantasies lead to the forcible internment of Japanese-Americans announced in Evacuation Order No. 19.  

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

In the closing months of World War II, the Allies are bombing German cities. As Dresden prepares for the inevitable, Lizzie’s family gains an unlikely extra member. Lizzie’s mother works at the Dresden zoo. When the zoo director orders that in the event of a bombing raid, the animals must be shot to prevent them escaping and causing havoc in the city, Lizzie’s mother convinces him to let her take the young orphaned elephant, Marlene, home. And so Marlene moves into the shed in the garden behind Lizzie’s house.

When the bombing of Dresden finally happens, the destruction is worse than anyone imagined. With the Soviet Army approaching from the East, Lizzie’s family flees to the West through bitter winter weather with Marlene in tow. An Elephant in the Garden is not only a story of the horrors of World War II from the perspective of German civilians, it is a tale of an unlikely group of people drawn together by circumstances and an elephant, struggling to survive war, hunger, and winter hardship and to escape to safety behind Allied lines.

The Time Pirate: A Nick McIver Time Adventure

By Ted Bell

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It's 1940 and the Nazis are invading Nick's beloved home, the British Channel Islands. So Nick takes to the skies: He has discovered an old World War One fighter plane in an abandoned barn. Determined to learn to fly, he is soon risking life and limb to photography armed German minelayers and patrol boats, and executing incredibly perilous bombing raids over Nazi airfields at night. Meanwhile, the evil pirate Captain Billy Blood, still desperate to acquire Nick's time machine, returns to Greybeard Islands, kidnaps Nick's sister, Kate, and transports her back to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the year 1781.
First of a series.

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Mare's War

By Tanita S. Davis

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Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women's Army Corps.
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Born to Fly

By Michael Ferrari

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In 1942, a girl who longs to be a pilot and her family try to manage their lives in Rhode Island when the father goes to fight in World War ll.

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Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a brisk and inventive novel that incorporates elements of science fiction, humor, historical fiction, and moody introspection. James Morrow utilizes these disparate narrative modes in order to portray the life story of a B-movie actor named Syms Thorley. Thorley has spent most of his screen time bringing monsters to life. His devoted fans fondly remember him as “Kha-Ton-Ra the living mummy, Corpuscula the alchemical creature, and Gorgantis, King of the Lizards.” However, no one suspects that Gorgantis, a grotesque fire- breathing lizard, originated as a top secret military project designed to swiftly end World War II.

Author of the Month: Uri Shulevitz

Picture book writer and illustrator Uri Shulevitz came into a world on the brink of a devastating war.  The son of son of Abraham and Szandla (Hermanstat) Shulevitz, Uri (pronounced oo-ree), he was only four years old when German bombs falling on Warsaw drove his Jewish family out of the city and into an eight-year period of travel in exile throughout Europe before finally settling in Paris in 1947, when Uri was twelve years old. 

Hitler's Canary

Sandi Toksvig

Ten-year-old Bamse and his Jewish friend Anton participate in the Danish Resistance during World War II.

9781596432475
Middle School

On the Wings of Heroes

By Richard Peck

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"Davy Bowman’s brother and their dad hung the moon. Dad looks forward to Halloween more than a kid, and Davy’s brother, Bill, flies B-17s. Davy adores these two heroes and tries his best to follow their lead, especially now. World War II has invaded Davy’s homefront boyhood. There’s an air raid drill in the classroom, and being a kid is an endless scrap drive. Bill has joined up, breaking their dad’s heart. It’s an intense, confusing time, and one that will invite Davy to grow up in a hurry. Still, Richard Peck is a master of comedy, and even in this novel of wartime uncertainty, he infuses his tale with humor: oddballs and rascals and boyhood misadventures alongside the poignant moments."

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