We follow stories. An interest in Downton Abbey got the kids and I curious about WWI. That led to my eight year old trying to talk to a friend about WWI only to discover the friend knew more about WWII and nothing about WWI. So we had to learn something about WWII. We’re slowly watching through the mini-series Winds of War, but also looking for children’s books about the war. To my surprise I found at the local library three great children’s books about WWII and the Netherlands. Two of them are picture books and one is a chapter book.
Blueberries for the Queen, by John Paterson, talks about a young child meeting the Queen of the Netherlands while she was in exile during the war. The pictures show everything as it is, as well as how the boy imagines things. How should a Queen look? Could the boy be a brave knight? Could he participate somehow in the events? Everyone else is doing war work somehow. His father tells him picking blueberries is peace work, not war work, so maybe he can do some peace work and help comfort the visiting Queen before she leaves for Canada.
The Greatest Skating Race, by Louise Bordon, talks about a young child asked to help two other children flee from the Netherlands to Belgium. They go by skate pretending to be just school kids on a trip to visit an aunt. It is a story about courage and perserverance and because it is about skating it is about something the children can relate to.
Brave Deeds: How one family saved many from the Nazis, by Ann Alma, tells a true story about a family in the Holland that sheltered people from the Nazis. It talks about rationing. (Something Downton Abbey talks about as a feature of WWI too.) It talks about the care taken to keep people hidden, with secret cellars and flipping mattresses over to hide the body heat that showed that someone had been sleeping there. It briefly mentions the royal family in exile and so it ties in nicely with Blueberries for the Queen, and the abundant mention of food (mainly its scarcity but also what they did get to eat) gave us lots of ideas for food we could try making.