Tuesday, April 30, 2013


by Jim Murphy
144 pages
Middle School+

The Great War, World War I is raging through Europe, sending despair through hearts.  Soldiers are converging, battle lines are drawn.  Death stalks these men, taking its daily toll.  Hope is scarce, and the future looks dim.

In the midst of one of the most horrible times of war, one day stands different than the others.  Christmas Day, 1914, dawns cold and silent.  Instead of bullets, Christmas carols ring through the air.  A brief truce between the English and German lines has enemies chatting together, celebrating Christmas in an entirely new way.  While tomorrow they may go back to shooting each other, for now, they are all bound by the special season.

This was a really good book.  There were lots of things I liked, including how it told the story.  Instead of just plopping us in the middle of the war, it gave some background- how the war started, what it was like leading up to Christmas, and overall, what it was like to be a soldier.  It is easier to understand what a miracle that day was when it is compared to the normal existence of daily life.  While the truce wasn't universal and some people still fought, the people that did participate remembered it.  It change them, and changed their outlook on the war.

I like all the photos and maps included in the book, as well as all the historical context of the setting.  I am not a history buff, and this book really helped me, as an adult, understand what was going on in the war better than any class I have ever had.

Good book!  Great story to tell, plus I really liked how it told the story.  Teens will learn not only about this specific instance, but about the rest of the war as well.  I listed as Middle School mostly for content and some of the pictures.  Life was not always pretty as a soldier, and some of the photos reflect that.  Text is detailed and informative, but not overwhelming.  Great book for history projects, or for kids interested in factual books instead of fiction.

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