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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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33016533,462 (4.25)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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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 |
Well then. Talk about your all-time heart-warmers.

Prior to reading I had seen many internet posts about "Uncle Wiggle," and had a bit of knowledge of his exploits. But afterwards, Gail Halvorsen cemented his place with Fred Rogers and Bob Ross as some of my favorite people to ever live.

"Candy Bomber," is a beautiful tale of compassion juxtaposed with former enemies who had both survived the military might of the allied powers, the sheer stupidity of entering into a land war with Russia, and really just Nazis in general. Every (digital in my case) page seemed to force me to smile, become enveloped in goosebumps, or just outright cry from the sweetness. Gail Halvorsen's story is a testament to his parents mantra that one small action can make a great change.

And "Little Viggles", really?! That's not only the most adorable military operation I've ever heard of, but maybe the cutest name for any plan ever. In both name and practice. Clearly, it's a far cry from "D-Day."

Also, this (somewhat) answered a lingering question that I have had for the better part of my life. While I do have a working knowledge of the political fallout between the US and Russia post WWII, I had always wondered why America and Germany became such great friends so quickly after the two countries were embroiled in global war. But, clearly, the actions of Halvorsen and his ilk helped to spur this political friendship that continues to this day.

Not to mention the dominion under the USSR sucked. Like really hard. Especially in East Berlin and Russian controlled Germany prior to the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1990.

But one my favorite parts of this book is absolutely filled with primary documents. There are plenty of pictures with Halvorsen interacting with the German people, dropping candy and chocolate, and just being super awesome in general.

And while that was nice, what brought me to near bawling were the letters printed that Lt. Halvorsen received from the German children. It showed what the "Chocolate Bomber" meant to these people, way more so than the text itself. The cute doodles of parachutes and Hershey bars, a random awesome drawing of a lion, and their words of appreciation. It's mind blowing to think that not only did something as minimal as chocolate bars and gum change the outlook of so many people whose lives' had been destroyed, but that greed never set in, as it always tends to do in stories like these.

So frequently I expected a chapter entitled "And then there's this Guy" about some conniving soldier who used his knowledge of Operation Vittles and the German black market to make a profit from black market Hershey bars. But it never happened. This book is a testament to the the love that people can possess. It's not just going to a soup kitchen and ladling out food for the homeless - a noble act in itself - but flying in and around enemy airspace to drop basic resources and sweets. Bravery and selflessness both contain man different tiers, but the work done by Lt. Halvorsen and his candy bombers are, to me, at the top of the pyramid.

Though, while I easily give this book a 5/5, I cannot say I didn't have any complaints - minimal though they may be. First off, the US Government fully backed this operation from the moment they found out about it. And while this sounds awesome, my cynicism cannot overlook the possibility that some serious jingoism was in play with the decision. Sure the boots on the ground - or, I suppose, the air in this case - were pure of heart, but I honestly just thought this was just America trying to stick it to Russia. Essentially"

"Hey Commies! You're people are begging for extra bread and we're dropping tons of free candy, coal, flour. Who's awesome now? Oh, wait, it's America."

A stance that is only bolstered by the soon to come McCarthyism that would overtake the country.

The writing itself, I found also to be subpar. The pictures and captions were absolutely required to me, as my interest would have waned a bit without all of the primary documents, despite how attached I felt to the people involved. The reality of the images it was made the story really come alive for me, as opposed to the text, which is generally how it goes. Though, I admit I could certainly be wrong, after all I haven't read it without the accompaniments.

Despite those minor inconveniences, I would love to teach this book in any secondary education class. Heck, even with seniors. And it would be absolutely fantastic for cross disciplinary units with damn near any History teacher planning a unit on the world post WWII. Not only is it a good story but it deals with repairing relations between warring nations, politics, the strife faced by citizens of Germany post-Nazi control, and the efforts made by America to straight throw up a middle finger to Communism.

And finally, this book hits home for me on a personal level. My Grandfather served in the US Army in the early to mid 1950s and was stationed in American territory in Germany at the time. His job was to help design and reconstruct bridges that had been damaged during the war. Essentially he was an engineer. And while he is currently in the grips of dementia and Alzheimer's, I remember some of the few stories he would tell about his time in the service. He told me of bombed out houses, destitute families, and German chocolate. He has always been quite fond of chocolate.

I just wish I had known about Gail Halvorsen before my Grandfather's memory faded into time. Maybe it's the rare optimist in me, or maybe it's just because I love the old man and think he knows everything, but something inside of me tells me he likely had some first hand experience with the "Candy Bombers." It's a shame I'll likely never know. But memories can be fickle, and certainly refuse to leave despite a tangled brain. Next I see him, I'm certainly going to ask.

Finally, this book just made me love being a goddamn red blooded American. We're an MMA fighter with a heart of gold. Sure, if you piss us off, we'll come at you fast and dangerous. But that;s just the protective instinct. America is not war. America is love and compassion. Or at least, that's the ideal that I, and clearly Colonel Gail Halvorsen, believe in. ( )
  JFinnegan | Apr 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
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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Average: (4.25)
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2 editions of this book were published by Charlesbridge.

Editions: 1580893368, 1580893376

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