Friday, September 7, 2012

And The Soldiers Sang

by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Gary Kelley
Creative Editions | 2011

This poignant picture book is about the Christmas truce on Christmas Eve 1914 on the front lines of WWI. Seen through the eyes of a fictional Welsh soldier who sings First Noel in his tenor that night, the paneled art evokes a graphic-novel or war-based comic book feel. The dark palette fits perfectly with the wartime and night-time setting and the story itself offers a look at how peace fits into history.

This one is for the older set. Use it in your 4th through 10th grade classrooms during a general war unit or on a WWI unit. Ask the students to consider how the history is woven through the story with a fictional character at the center -- does it matter if he's not actually real? Will we ever know every soldier who was there that night? Offer it to your child who is curious about war and wants to read everything s/he can get their hands on. Read it yourself. Personally, I didn't get enough WWI history in school to remember the Christmas truce all that well. But now, it'll stay with me forever.

A 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Picture Book Honor Award winner, this one will likely be a winner in everyone's mind.

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