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Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin…

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" (Orbis… (edition 2010)

by Michael O. Tunnell

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33416533,013 (4.24)3
Title:Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" (Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards))
Authors:Michael O. Tunnell
Info:Charlesbridge Pub Inc (2010), Edition: New, School & Library Binding, 110 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:grades 4-6, nonfiction

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Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell



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Summary: This is an account of the Berlin Airlift over a 14-month period in 1948-1949. 1,736, 781 tons of food was airlifted into the Western Sectors of Berlin to keep the German people of Berlin alive, as the Soviet Union restricted shipments of food into the city. But, not only food was provided for Berliners. Candy was dropped by little parachutes to the children of the city, and this is the story of Lt. Gail Halvorsen and his mission to bring “sweet vittles” to the desperately poor and hungry children of Berlin. He offered hope.

Personal Response: I picked up this book as I was looking through books related to World War II for a final 6th grade project that the students will be working on after Easter. I read it quickly, and then called my mom to ask her questions. I wanted details. My mom was five-years-old living in the French Sector of Berlin and she remembers the excitement of seeing the American planes flying over Berlin. They would land in the American Sector of the city, but it still meant that the people of Berlin would not starve to death. I grew up hearing how much the Berlin Airlift impacted my own mother’s life and how she saw the American’s as “saviors.” This book brought the memories to life. My mom never got any chocolate or gum from the “Candy Bomber” but she knew that there was hope and kindness in this world, and good people in the world that made a difference.

Curriculum Connection: I introduced the subject of the Berlin Airlift to my 6th grade students today. I showed a ton of pictures, and then I began reading this book to the students. I told them that when we finished reading this book (or parts of it, because of its length) that they would be writing letters to either Lt. Gail Halvorsen or my own mother. The “Candy Bomber” is 96 years old and lives in Utah. I found his address and will be mailing the students’ letters to him in three weeks. They can also write my mom and ask her questions. I will set up a FaceTime session that the kids can ask her questions, and she can tell her story. There are so many curriculum connections to make with this book, but I think that this is a way to engage their thinking, and give them a way to relate their historical learning to the “here and now.” I’m excited! ( )
  rjrubylou | Apr 7, 2017 |
This book could be used as an interactive read aloud for grade 5 because it is a long book with few pictures and it is about WWII, which may not be suitable for younger grades. I would use it as an interactive read aloud because it shows other parts of WWII, besides just the war. It is also about children that could be the same age as them so they could relate to the book.
  brandi3325 | Feb 24, 2017 |
I would use this text as an interactive read aloud for fourth grade students. I would use this in fourth grade because it is a bit lengthy, and students in younger grades would not understand what WWII was or what happened at this time. I would have students do small group activities and determine what they believe the theme of the story is because it is very important, and then share out loud as a class. This book is an informational book, so I would have students write a brief paper describing this event in depth and how it impacted the people of west Berlin, using the illustrations and captions. The children in the text are around their age, so it would keep them interested because they would be able to put themselves into the text. Along with the brief paper, students will make a chart and list some ways this "Candy Bomber" brought the children, people, and military together as a community. ( )
  kbellot | Feb 11, 2017 |
It all started with two pieces of gum according to Lt. Gail Halverson. This inspiring story of a young man who was truly invested in another country’s community of children is fantastic. The book tells the story of how Lt. Halverson started the candy parachutes in Germany after World War II. At the time candy was far more precious than it is today. It was even seen as a form of currency to many people in the military at the time. Halverson was not allowed to drop candy to the children of German initially but once his commanding officers found out about what he was doing he was able to continue. The legacy he started did not end when he was sent back home to the states. He left his legacy in great hands which not only continued his visions of the Candy Bombing but also expanded them. The book has a ton of photographs which I found to be extremely helpful throughout the book. The fact there are so many photos of this one event in history is amazing. The book can also be a good book to use as a picture walk. One may not get the same amount of information from solely looking at the photos and reading the captions but it was a huge assistance in getting through the book. The book was similar to looking at a chorological photo album. It is usually very difficult to document history let alone have the visual representation to support it.
It was not a difficult read in terms of the fact that the author’ tone was very stable and clear. The story of Lt. Halverson is a true inspiration to seeing a need and filling it. The children of Germany had very little during this time and did not ask for much. Then they were met with a large amount of kindness in the form of what children love most, candy. The dropping of the Candy Parachutes could remind the reader of having a very frequently occurring Easter Egg Hunt. It was true that students often were upset that they did not get their candy and wrote him letters about such but even with them being upset they were grateful for the effort that he was putting into making these events happen. Not every drop was a huge success and the drops did not always include candy but food and supplies. Lt. Halverson was completing true acts of assisting humanity and this book should be read by children. It teaches them to care for others, to give what you can, and on the academic side, how to communicate by writing letters. ( )
  slockett2008 | Apr 24, 2016 |
I liked Candy Bomber. How could I not like a book about a man who was a flying Santa to children in a war torn land? What I can't quite figure out is why I didn't like it MORE. I think that this book did exactly what Michael Tunnell had in mind; it chronicled the ins and outs of "Operation Little Vittles," and even threw in some heartwarming post-war anecdotes about the primary pilot, Lt. Gail Halvorsen. I loved Gail. I think it all just felt a little to Pollyanna to be honest. Of course I understand that Halvorsen wouldn't see it that way. He was privy to an up-close view of the devastation that I can only read about.

So what caused the niggling sense of dissatisfaction that kept creeping in between the page turns of this ostensibly uplifting factual account of "Onkel Wackelflugel"?

I think what bother me is the pristineness of this book. It's not what the book says; it's what it doesn't say. I understand that Tunnell was creating a slice of life, one life in particular, but that slice feels so disconnected from the state of the U.S.A. and the rest of the world at the time. I know it sounds awful and nosey, but I kept wanting to know more about other aspects of Gail Halvorsen's life. Specifically, I wonder about his attitudes toward the many disenfranchised children in America at the time. What are his opinions about race and the brewing Civil Rights movement in Post WWII America? It's just all so . . . nice, in a time when things decidedly weren't nice. Of course, to be fair to Halvorsen (who I'm sure I would probably like quite a bit), he served the need in front of him, where he was stationed at the time. And I admire that. I also admire the creative lengths to which he went in order to deliver "hope in the form of a chocolate bar."

And I WOULD use this book with students. I would like for them riff off the theme of "hope in the form of." Hope really does take many forms, and sometimes the smallest acts of kindness, like dropping two sticks of Doublemint into the waiting hands of waifs, mean the most. Like Halvorsen said, those small acts can lead to really big things. But even if they don't, their meaning is not lost when the kindness is recognized. Isn't it interesting how in vulnerable times, these small acts can have the greatest impact? I love the heart of Gail Halvorsen in this respect. Am warmed by the fact that he couldn't sleep after his first encounter with the West Berlin children. It's reminiscent of Leo Hart's heart. I think these two would have found common ground.

Halvorsen's story does shine on its own but also as part of the larger effort to repair post WWII relations with Germany. The whole Berlin airlift effort represents larger "package of hope." The U.S. had learned, at least for that moment in history, that heavy post-war burdens did nothing to prevent (and perhaps even fostered) another uprising that cost a sea of lives.

All in all, I find more to praise than to criticize, and Tommell can't be blamed for me wanting information that was clearly outside the scope of his authorial intent. So be it. ( )
  Desirichter | Apr 20, 2016 |
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added by Katya0133 | editHorn Book, Susan Dove Lempke (Sep 1, 2010)
This is a real treat—a World War II title with a happy ending.
added by Katya0133 | editSchool Library Journal, Eldon Younce (Jul 1, 2010)
[An] accessible and positive portrayal of a serviceman who wasn’t on the battlefield. Irresistible.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Kathleen Isaacs (Jun 1, 2010)
The abundance of war details aid in the transition from one chapter to the next but tend to overrun the telling, hampering narrative flow. Readers who stick with it, however, will gain a unusual perspective on the beginnings of the Cold War.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus (Jun 1, 2010)

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"World War II was over, and Berlin was in ruins. US Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen knew the children of the city were suffering. They were hungry and afraid. The young pilot wanted to help, but what could one man in one plane do?"--dust jacket flap.… (more)

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2 editions of this book were published by Charlesbridge.

Editions: 1580893368, 1580893376

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