November is speeding away, and the Clares are busy preparing for Christmas. Over the last years, friends and family who know my interest in the Second World War have gifted me with some interesting items and fantastic reads. I thought I’d share a few of them with you today, in case you (like my family 🙂 ) know someone who might be interested.
Action Figures, Anyone?
While I don’t collect many models or miniatures, (having three children, I also have more than enough small bits of plastic around my house to deal with) my husband discovered a fantastic site for customizable action figures with accessories and all sorts of other goodies: Marauder “Gun-Runners.”
Using the site, he created main male character from both of my WWII novels. It was pretty incredible to see my characters outside of the printed page!
The level of detail and customization for these figures is impressive, with dozens of accessory options—from weapons to ammo pouches to entrenching tools to teeny-tiny cigarettes. If you know someone with an interest in miniatures, this is a site to check out!
WWII for Younger Readers
As a teacher and a mom, I always have my eyes open for books that can bring history alive for my students and children. A number of excellent WWII books have crossed my path. (I’m including Amazon links, but many of these would be available through Scholastic and through other retailers.)
World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk is an excellent overview of major aspects of the war, incorporating facts, personal accounts, and some activities. It’s not a simplistic book by any means—I’d say it fits middle school aged children and above.
Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars is a look at WWII in Denmark, and a great little story of a Danish family’s love for their Jewish neighbors, as they risk themselves to save them. I used it in the classroom last year, and students have brought it up again this year as a book they enjoyed.
Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and Jerry Spinelli’s Milkweed both deal with the Holocaust. Yolen’s novel transports a young Jewish girl back in time to experience the terrors of the camps first hand. Spinelli’s novel takes the perspective of a boy who lives through the Warsaw ghetto. Both are tear-jerkers, but they show the horrors of those days in ways younger readers (I’d say older middle school and above) can understand.
For something a little lighter, Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan tells the story of Norwegian children helping the resistance by smuggling gold out of German hands—I loved this story as an elementary student.
And just this year, I enjoyed reading Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury which takes a look at the Pearl Harbor attacks from the eyes of Tomi, a Japanese American boy who lives on Oahu.
Between researching for my own stories and personal interest, I’ve read a great deal of WWII non-fiction this year. Here are four of my favorite finds. Perhaps you have people on your Christmas list who would enjoy them as well!
Frontlines: WWII Personal Accounts of Wisconsin Veterans by John Maino has been sitting on our shelf a while, but this year I dusted it off and found a collection of fascinating, first-hand accounts from men and women who served, along with some history unique to Wisconsin (most history books I’ve picked up don’t specifically include information on the Green Bay Packers.)
Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During WWII by Joy Neal Kidney I’d highly recommend this book for those who love true family stories. Joy Neal Kidney shares family photos and letters to tell the story of her five uncles who served in the Second World War. Only two returned home.
Both Helmets and Lipstick by Ruth G. Haskell and A Half Acre of Hell: A Combat Nurse in WWII by Avis D. Schorer are fascinating and moving personal accounts of women who served in the American Army Nurse Corps.
If you have someone on your list who would prefer WWII fiction, I’ve had the chance to read several novels this year as well. These are a couple of my favorites.
I finished Sarah Sundin’s “Sunrise at Normandy” trilogy this spring. I loved all three books of this series, but the last, The Land Beneath Us, was my favorite. These books combine excellent research, sympathetic characters, and Christian hope in wonderful interconnected stories.
Alexa Kang’s novel, Shanghai Story, opens in 1936. This was the first novel I’ve read dealing with the effects of the war on the international community in China—a fascinating setting, which this story brought to life. I enjoyed this first book in the trilogy, and I am looking forward to reading the other two.
I could keep going…. What about you? Do you have any book recommendations or gift ideas for lovers of history?
If you’re busy shopping, may your stress levels be low and your energy levels high!
On related notes, I’m very excited to announce that I’m going to have a FREE bookish gift available for readers of this blog on December 1st…
…and, if you’ll permit me a quick plug, if you haven’t checked out my novel, and might be interested, here’s the link. 🙂