Monday, May 23, 2011

Nonfiction Monday (plus some vampires!)

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

Nonfiction Monday Round-Up hosted today at Great Kid Books.

Following World War II, when Berlin was trying to recover from the devastation of the war, the US and the British decided to start delivering candy and food by airplane when the Russians blockaded Berlin. Lt. Gail Halvorsen, who was stationed at the Rhein-Main Airforce Base in West Germany, met a number of German children in his travels, and realized that they had not seen candy in a number of years. He decided to collect candy and drop it from his plane. This soon caught the attention of the international media, and donations poured in. Children wrote letters, and looked forward to seeing Halvorsen's plane "wiggling" its wings and dropping packages. This continued until May of 1949 when the Russians lifted the blockade.

Strengths: I love stories about WWII that I had never heard, and this is certainly one. I knew of the lack of food in war-torn countries, but not of this effort to alleviate it. This book is well-researched and nicely illustrated, and the inclusion of Lt. Halvorsen's activity after this time period is interesting as well. Very nice.
Weaknesses: The maps could have been slightly better, but the book is still excellent!

Hill, Will. Department 19.
When Jamie's father comes home in a panic one night, Jamie is completely unprepared for the devastation that occurs-- his father is killed, his mother is taken hostage, and he is whisked off to a super secret government department where several families, including his own, have been fighting vampires for a hundred years! With flashbacks, we see the start of the whole enterprise in the 1890s, then see the beginning of Jamie's family's involvement in the 1920s. With the help of his father's friend, Frankenstein, and an attractive vampire girl who may or may not be on the side of good, Jamie tries to find his mother and take down as many vampires as he can while doing it.

Strengths: Lots of action, good spin on existing vampire lore, interesting combination of vampire fighting and spy-type action. Darren Shan fans will ADORE this, even at 540 pages! Great cover, too!
Weaknesses: Very, very gory, in the manner of The Monstrumologist. This will make it all the more popular with the boys, but made it hard for me to get through. Lots of blood.

In non-book news, the Blendon Girls on the Run group ran in the Girls on the Run 5k on Sunday. It was a little warm (as opposed to the torrential rain we've had every day for the past three months!) but they did a super job. I felt pretty pleased with myself-- I had hoped to run a sub 45:00 minute race and came in at 35:02. Not fabulous, but a starting point!


Camille said...

When the picture book, The Chocolate Pilot came out on the Texas Bluebonnet list, I had Gail Halvorsen visit our school. Just happened he was in town for another event. WOW! What a presence he still is. Amazing man. The kids were captivated by this story. I have not read this book yet but I plan to.

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