A Year of Borrowed Men by Michelle Barker, illustrated by Renné Benoit


911mNMDWprL         A Year of Borrowed Men by Michelle Barker, illustrated by Renné Benoit. Pajama Press, 2016. ISBN 9781927485835

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4

Genre:  Historical picture book

What did you like about the book? In Germany during World War II, Gerda’s family is given three French prisoners to work with them on their farm. Gerda’s mother is kind to the men, although they are required to sleep in an outbuilding . When a neighbor spies the three prisoners eating with Gerda and her family in the family’s kitchen, police take her mother away for the day to question her. Still, the family and the prisoners become friends, even though they don’t understand each other’s languages beyond a few words. Gerda shows the prisoners her new doll. When the doll gets too close to the stove and its hands melt, the prisoners bandage it up. This act of compassion remains in Gerda’s thoughts. The story is based on the wartime memories of the authors’ mother. Watercolor, colored pencil and pastel illustrations are rendered in muted tones with a sepia background, emphasizing the historical nature of the story. A simple story which can teach young children to see the humanity of people at war.  Author’s note with photographs at end.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Useful for parents and teachers seeking to explain war to children.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books or Picture books for older children

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: July 21, 2016

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