By Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Wendy Edelson
Christmas Day, 1914
My dear sister Janet,
It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!
The Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of the most extraordinary incidents not only of World War I but of all military history. Providing inspiration for songs, books, plays, and movies, it has endured as an archetypal image of peace. Yet much about the historic event remains shrouded in myth and legend.
In this fictional letter—illustrated in authentic detail by Wendy Edelson—award-winning author Aaron Shepard draws from firsthand accounts of soldiers at the front to portray the truce in its true nature and spirit.
Picture book • Ages 10 & up
Aaron Shepard’s many books for young people have won honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the American Folklore Society, and the National Council for the Social Studies.
Wendy Edelson has been honored with the Pacific Northwest Book Award, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and the Mom’s Choice Award. Her other illustrated books include Aaron’s The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale.
“Among the many entries celebrating this event’s centennial, librarians and teachers should welcome this historically accurate telling for ages 9 and up.”—Kirkus Reviews, Aug. 11, 2014
“Beautifully and realistically illustrated.” -- Alex Baugh, The Children’s War, Aug. 12, 2014
“Short but intense, heart-warming, full of hope, love, brotherhood, and friendship.” -- Veronica Marzini, LibriAmoriMiei, Nov. 8, 2014
“A beautiful (and true) tale, with lovely illustrations . . . Great for a readaloud to children!” -- Beth Nolan Conners, Beth’s Book-Nook Blog, Nov. 12, 2014
“Delightful . . . A really beautiful rendition of those fantastic events when, in the midst of war, the spirit of Christmas overruled the fighting and peace reigned on the battlefields.” -- Elaine Brent, Splashes Into Books, Dec. 7, 2014
“Lovely . . . It evokes the time and place with vivid description and will certainly spark talk of why there is war . . . The artwork is stunning.”—Lynne Vanderveen Smith, children’s librarian
“Great to use with readers of various ages, especially in a social studies or American history curriculum.”—Karen Biggs-Tucker, co-author, Transforming Literacy Teaching for the Era of Higher Standards
“I would recommend this for any school library . . . Includes facts about life in the trenches of World War I—but without making it too frightening for young readers. Descriptions add realism to the scenes. Other things might surprise students and cause them to rethink their assumptions that all Germans were ‘bad guys’ . . . An excellent addition to a unit on WWI. It could start a class discussion or even be used as a model text for students who are writing up their own narratives based on research into the war.”—Suzanne Costner, school librarian
“What a wonderful way to show children that, even though there are differences between people, there are also similarities that can tie us together, even in a war zone.”—Kim Napier, teacher
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