Historical Fiction, History, Living Books, Top Picks, WWI

Top Picks: World War One

Casey Over There by Staton Rabin
This picture book chronicles the wait of a young boy at home in Brooklyn whose brother is sent “over there” to fight in The War. Through correspondence and harmonic events in the two brothers lives, readers glimpse the feelings of family waiting for their brothers, sons and fathers to come home. Beautifully illustrated with warm paintings.

The French Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
From the vintage Twins Series, Perkins weaves a tale of boy and girl twins caught up in the fight to stop the burning of Rheims Cathedral after the Germans shelled it. Written in 1918, this is a contemporary account, from an American vantage point, of the impact of The War on the citizens of France. For Elementary readers.

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
One of our dearest authors, Kate draws on her own experience of serving as nurse on the front lines during The War to weave authentic incidents into this sequel to The Good Master. The exciting climax of this story will move you, and if you’re anything like me, Emily, you will be crying tears at the inextricable mix of beauty and sorrow. Not to be missed. Newbery Honor Winner for Middle-Elementary on up.

The Story of Edith Cavell by Iris Vinton
Part of the excellent Signature Series, this is perhaps the most popular biography on WWI that we have in our library. A nurse during the war, Cavell was executed by the Germans as a spy. This is a story about a girl that all boys who read it love it (not a usual occurrence!). One of my favorite library anecdotes involves an 11 year old boy whose mother was annoyed that he didn’t capitalize “german” in his written narration of this book. Knowing he was accountable for correct punctuation of proper nouns she inquired into the matter. “Mom, they DO NOT DESERVE to have their names capitalized,” he said through gritted teeth, evidently so moved by the injustice Cavell suffered–that’s a living book!

We Were There with the Lafayette Escadrille by Clayton Knight
From the popular “We Were There” series, a young French boy, from Alsace-Lorraine (whose understanding of German looks suspicious to those around him) raises carrier pigeons and ends up helping the American Lafayette Escadrille stationed in his town. Historical fiction based on fact gives the reader a peak into life during The War. For Middle-Elementary to Junior High readers

Flying Aces of World War One by Gene Gurney
After an introductory chapter on the causes of WWI, the impact of the newly invented airplanes, and the transition the machines underwent during The War, Gurney’s book is a series of chapter-biographies of the Great Aces on all sides of the conflict. Part of the Landmark Book Series. For Middle-Elementary on up.

The Falcons of France by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
Two pilots who were in the Lafayette Escadrille themselves give us this excellent historical novel of a young man joining that prestigious company of pilots. Their insight into the daily life of American pilots serving in the French Foreign Legion, the emotions and strength involved in their combat missions depicted in the pages of this book makes for an honest, stirring, and educational tale. For Middle School on up.

Bold Leaders of World War I by Col. Red Reeder
Written by a retired Army Colonel, this book is a collection of 12 chapter biographies of men and women on all sides of WWI. The Great War is not easy to understand, but through the lives of the men and women living, working, fighting, and surviving during those tumultuous years readers will begin to grasp a difficult time. For Middle School on up.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
This classic novel is set in the days leading up to the declaration of war in 1914. A young British man is caught up in a web of murder, espionage, the intelligence agency, and must run for his life while trying to crack a code that will save him and his country. For Middle School on up.

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