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Voices from the Second World War: Stories of…

Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of… (2018)

by Candlewick Press

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This review and many more like it are available on Read Till Dawn.

I both really loved this book and also didn't really like it.

I really love what it's doing. It takes the stories of people alive during WWII and records them in a format that is accessible for children (though perhaps sometimes a bit too heavy for them, for obvious reasons), saving them for posterity. There are stories from all different angles, from people who were soldiers during the war and people who were children, Jews and Germans and Poles and Brits and Americans and more telling their individual slivers of the grand narrative of the war.

On the other hand, I didn't really like it in parts because some of the stories–especially toward the beginning–were kind of boring: basically, "I was evacuated and lived on a farm for a while." Plus there was clearly some strong editing done, because most of the narratives were told in the same way, even though they came from vastly different people and were recorded in the first-person narrative.

I flipped forward after a while, and once we get into the later parts of the war and its end, then the really impactful stories begin. There are stories from several Jewish children who survived death camps, or whose parents went into them. There are pictures of the people back then, too, which made the stories so much more real. The one that is absolutely most shattering is a two-page spread of Hungarian Jews fresh off the cattle trucks at Auschwitz-Birkenau, waiting to be sorted. The caption informs us that only the strong were spared from being immediately sent to the gas chambers, and it's a thousand times more horrifying than just reading the fact because you can look into the faces of all these people about to be murdered.

It's - it's pretty hard, to be honest. Some of the material in this book is extremely horrifying and depressing. Add in a little bit of bad language (mainly a couple of "hell"s) and this is definitely not a book you should be handing off to your young children any time soon. But it is a pretty good collection of stories from across the war, tied together with explanations of the historical context, and I think it is important that we carry these stories with us into the future generations.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  Jaina_Rose | Oct 13, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A collection of first-hand experiences during World War II told through interviews for younger readers. Although mostly focused in Europe, there are a few stories from the U.S. and a couple from Japan. The accounts come from many backgrounds and illustrate quite a large scope of the war and how it affected people. Some interviewees worked from the Home Front, others were fighter pilots, some POWs, and others refugee children. Lots of photographs are included. For young history fans.

LT Early Reviewer ( )
  LibStaff2 | Jun 23, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My review is a dissent from the others for this Early Reviewer title. It is a book targeting children, middle-grade/juvenile level. It is broken up into sections with different people involved in WWII talking about their experiences, both on the home front and around the world, and from a variety of ages. Many of them are specifically narrated to children (relations or random school children).

However, the selection of voices is homogeneous. The focus is British, yet there are almost no (I think literally no, but I don't have the energy to check through every page again) people from the Commonwealth represented. Yet there are numerous Americans quoted. There are also precious few pages devoted to the Holocaust, representing a very narrow range of experience. Some of them are taken up with a member of a host family speaking for one of the Kindertransport (or similar) children, though this person was only born in 1940 and many of those children are still alive to tell their own stories. There is also an implication that Alan Turing killed himself simply because he was gay, with no mention of the persecution of the government and his chemical castration (and that bit written by someone who has generally opposed gay rights).

It is possible that the publisher was just lazy in putting this together. I don't know. There is some merit in the book, but it could have been so much better. Just because a book is intended for children doesn't mean it needs to be narrow or that the standard is lower. Indeed, the standard should be higher, especially because children tune out of enjoying history at this age. Not recommended. ( )
  mabith | May 24, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a collection of short reminiscences about the contributors' experiences in World War II. The subtitle “Stories of war as told to children of today” is somewhat misleading. While some of these accounts originated in a children's newspaper, the voices of the children of today are absent. Some of the contributors were children or teens during the war, but many more saw military action. Although the majority of the contributors are British, there are representative voices from the United States, France, Germany, other European nations, and Japan. The stories have been grouped in themes such as “Evacuees,” “Blitzed Britain,” “The Resistance,” “Woman at War,” “The Holocaust,” and “The Fall of Japan,” following the general progression of the war years. A few of the stories are reprints and/or excerpts, but most will be new to readers. This is a welcome contribution to the preservation of the history of the war years. The time is coming all too soon when there will be no one living to share their wartime memories with those of us who were born after the war's end.

This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. ( )
  cbl_tn | May 21, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A moving compilation of stories from World War II, told from the people and survivors who lived through it, fought in it, or were affected by it. Many of the stories were told to and recorded by young children today. The stories covered the preparations for war, the war itself, the impacts in Europe, from bombings to resistance movements, women at war, the Holocaust, and Hiroshima. The most interesting juxtaposition were the stories of the bomber pilot of the Enola Gay and one of Hiroshima's survivors. The pilot never regretted his actions and believed he did the best and right thing. The Hiroshima survivor lived for years with pain, suffering and rage, until he learned to forgive those who dropped the bomb in the mid-1980s. A valuable record of personal recollections of World War II. ( )
  sylliu | May 7, 2018 |
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The Second World War was the most devastating war in history, resulting in up to eighty million deaths and causing the map of the world to be redrawn. Now, more than seventy years after peace was declared, a variety of people who lived through the war share their memories with children so that their experiences will never be forgotten. In this compelling collection, pilots, evacuees, resistance fighters, and navy sailors, as well as survivors of the Holocaust, prisoners-of-war camps, and the Hiroshima bombing, tell their stories, passing on their personal recollections of historical events to a new generation. The stories in Voices from the Second World War were collected by children from all over the world who met with people who wanted to share experiences from the war. These stories, which take place from the outbreak of war to the Hiroshima bombing, capture the spirit and courage of a generation of people affected by World War II.… (more)

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