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Face & Fight Fear

These books for children, from two to twelve and up, were selected from the suggestions of parents, teachers, and children's librarians in Washington DC, Sacramento, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. All looked for time-tested books that are positive, hopeful and realistic.

The books for the very youngest may help them express feelings about this week’s tragic events. For children six and up, we looked for stories about children effected by war or tragedy, tales about heroes and hostages. We suggest these books not as solutions for ending war or terrorism, but as possibilities for providing comfort.

We will update this list as we can.

Books are available in public and school libraries, in bookstores, or at online retailers.
Face & Fight Fear © Parents' Choice 2001

Pearl Harbor Child : A Child's View of Pearl Harbor from Attack to Peace
by Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson
Woodson House Publishing; ISBN: 0931503027
$12.95, Ages 12-15

As a child, Dorinda Nicholson watched the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor from her front yard. In this book, Nicholson details her memories of blackouts, air raid drills, victory gardens, censorship, gas masks and much more. Told through a child's eyes, the story presents an unusual perspective of World War II that will appeal to both children and adults.

By Aliki
Greenwillow/Mulberry; ISBN: 068806518X
$5.95, Ages 2 - 6

With small, detailed, cartoon-like drawings and simple dialogue, this book is best savored by one or two readers at a time, since the pictures are too little to be visible in a group setting. Each page depicts circumstances familiar to children, ones that call forth emotions both pleasant and unpleasant. Truthful, charming and reassuring, this book invites one-on-one discussion.

C is For Curious: An ABC of Feelings
By Woodleigh Hubbard.
Chronicle Books; ISBN: 0877016798
$13.95, Ages 3 - 6

The title of this handsome picture book is appropriate. The characters, animals with bumpy profiles and expressive faces and tails, are very curious indeed. In opaque, bold colors, the actions of Hubbard's animals depict various emotional states from angry through zealous. The book is best savored by two readers - the lap-provider can help the lap-sitter understand and identify varying emotions.

Dear Daddy
By Philippe Dupasquier
Puffin, ISBN 0140508228
Out of Print - Available at local libraries, Ages 3 - 8

Working and playing through the changing seasons, a small girl, her baby brother, and her mother are amusingly depicted from the same birds-eye view of their house and yard. While their activities are shown on the lower portion of the pages, the life her father is leading aboard a freighter is depicted in a strip of pictures across the top. The linkage between them is provided by brief letters in the narrator's voice, which form the text. Imbued with a sense of the slow passage of time, this book humorously teaches children that absent parents have lives simultaneous to their own. Letters can serve as connections until the joyful reunion.

George the Drummer BoySam the Minuteman
George the Drummer Boy
By Nathaniel Benchley, Illustrated by Arnold Lobel
HarperTrophy; ISBN: 0064441075
Ages 4 - 8

Americans are used to identifying with the Minutemen at the battles of Lexington and Concord which started the American Revolution. Sam the Minuteman is a farmer's young son who goes with his father to face the Brits. George the Drummer Boy, however, marches with the Brits into these battles, and he goes without so much as a gun. Both boys express the gamut of emotions experiences by soldiers before, during, and after battles. Excellent for discussion, Benchley's "easy-to-read" stories show the humanity of soldiers.

The WallThe Wall
By Eve Bunting, Illustrated by Ronald Himler.
Houghton Mifflin Co; ISBN: 0395629772
$5.95, Ages 4 - 8

Accompanying his father to the Vietnam War Memorial to find the name of his grandfather George Munoz, a little boy is quietly but keenly observant of other visitors. He takes particular note of another boy being told by his grandfather to button his jacket. When the narrator turns to leave, his own father tells him he's proud Grandfather Munoz's name is on the wall. The narrator acknowledges within himself that he is proud too - but he'd rather have his grandfather there to tell him to button his jacket.

War Boy
By Michael Foreman
Trafalgar Square; ISBN: 1851457046
$16.95, Ages 7 - Up

During World War II, Pakefield, a small country village on Britain's east coast, filled up with servicemen, many from a nearby naval base. So did the local shop, which was run by Michael Foreman's mother. Michael's childhood took place against a backdrop filled with uniforms, guns, gas masks and falling bombs - including one which barely missed Michael's bed. It was also filled with young people, laughter, meetings, partings, and friendship - the happier things outweighing the others. With humorous watercolor illustrations, the book depicts a happy childhood . . . albeit an exciting one. As a bonus, many pictures have inserts which show the inner workings of various mechanical devices - barrage balloons, for example.

Angel With a Mouth-Organ
By Christobel Mattingley, Illustrated by Astra Lacis
Holiday House; ISBN 0823405931
Out of Print - Available at local libraries, Ages 6 - 10

Separated by war from their song-teaching, harmonica-playing father, Lena, Anna, and their mother are herded through a series of refugee camps. They can only hope that papa will find them when the war's over. At one point, the girls enter an empty church, where Anna displays her despair by smashing the plaster baby Jesus. Lena replaces it with her own beloved doll. At the end, father miraculously finds them by following from camp to camp a trail of his songs which his girls had taught to others.

The Secret Soldier: the Story of Deborah Sampson
By Ann McGovern
Scholastic; ISBN: 0590430521
$4.50, Ages 8 - 12

Today it is commonplace for women to serve in the army. During the American Revolution, it was unthinkable . . . except by Deborah Sampson. Before she could enlist, however, Deborah had to successfully pass as a man. Binding her chest and dressing as a man, Deborah paid a call on her mother and the local fortuneteller. Not only didn't Deborah's mother recognize her, the fortuneteller called her "an honest man." Satisfied, Deborah walked to Boston and enlisted.
McGovern's easy biography enables readers to participate in and understand Deborah Sampson's change from woman to warrior, and ultimately to pacifist.

Other Bells Will Ring For UsOther Bells For Us to Ring
By Robert Cormier, Illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
Laureleaf; ISBN: 044022862X
$4.99, Ages 8 - 12

Although Darcy has moved often in her eleven years, she and her mother are finally settled into a second-floor apartment close to Fort Delta, Massachusetts, where her father is training as a soldier to be shipped overseas. While her own family is non-practicing Unitarian, Darcy becomes captivated by the colorful, and very Catholic, Kathleen Mary O'Hara. Set in World War II, Robert Cormier's first novel for children, as opposed to young adults, explores the terrors of a family whose father is missing-in-action. Cormier empathetically and accurately captures the mystical thinking of a young girl.

By Robert Westall.
Scholastic; ISBN: 0590427717
$4.99, Ages 10 - Up

Cats often bond with one person and there have been documented cases of cats psychically "trailing" people over long distances into entirely new surroundings. Blitzcat is the story of a such a cat - a black female with the misnomer "Lord Gort."

Ripped from settled happiness, Lord Gort finds herself plunked down in unpleasant surroundings without the person whose gentle hands caressed her and upon whose shoulders she could ride. Unaware that there is a war going on and that her person is a RAF pilot, Lord Gort sallies forth to find him. The results are hair-raising. Even though it's full of scary experiences, the book has a light touch.

The Kestrel
By Lloyd Alexander
Dell/Laurel Leaf; ISBN 0440943930
Out of Print - Available at local libraries, Ages 10 - Up

The imaginary kingdom of Westmark is at war. Young Mickle is its reluctant new queen. Theo, a future prince and her old comrade, is in love with her. A handsome revolutionary, Justin, suggest that Theo become a courtier to Mickle. Because of stung pride Theo chooses the opposite - the life of a partisan. He soon becomes the feared Colonel Kestrel. Is he a monster or a hero?

In this multi-leveled adventure Lloyd Alexander weaves a tapestry of wartime's adventure, humor, excitement and drama. War's horror is an ongoing motif. With power and subtlety the young reader is led to draw her or his own conclusions about the nature of war. The author's view will be plain to the adult reader.

Fallen AngelsFallen Angels
By Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic; ISBN: 0590409433
$4.99, Ages 12 - up

Unable to afford college after graduation from high school, Richie Perry joins the army. Along with the wise-cracking Pee-Wee Gates from Louisiana, he finds himself an unwitting member of Lieutenant Carroll's Vietnam platoon. Carroll prays with his men whenever a platoon member is killed - referring to the dead as "angel warriors that fall." As these young men courageously engage in harsh battles, the author depicts war's devastation. Happily, however, the author is able to bring Richie home.

The Terrorists
By Milton Meltzer
Harper & Row; ISBN 0060241934
Out of Print - Available at local libraries, Ages 12 - up

Bombarded with news and rumors about terrorists, young people have only vague notions of who these terrorists are. These hazy, muddled images are close to how terrorists view themselves. Milton Meltzer has written a lucid history of terrorism from the Muslim Assassins of the eleventh century up to the modern perpetrators. In calm, objective prose, he describes the philosophies of the various groups. Meltzer also exposes the means and ends of terrorists as completely false.

A Handful of StarsA Hand Full of Stars
By Rafik Schami, Translated by Rika Lesser
Puffin; ISBN: 0140360735
$4.99, Ages Young Adult (12 - Up)

Written in the first person, this novel is structured as the journal of a 14-year-old boy growing up in Damascus. He matures from a naïve, self-absorbed journal-keeper to a seasoned journalist. The son of an uneducated baker, the boy is befriended by wise "Uncle" Salim who encourages him to write. He is also befriended by a newspaperman with whom he collaborates on an underground paper. Ultimately his friend is captured by one of the seemingly endless chain of corrupt governments. A fascinating look into the complexities of the Middle East is revealed by a boy's words.

The Upstairs CatThe Upstairs Cat
1998 Silver Honor Picture Book
By Karla Kuskin, Illustrated by Howard Fine
Clarion; ISBN: 0-395-70146-5
$15.00, Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.

This appealing verse story about an upstairs cat and a downstairs cat concerns their unending war "that neither is winning." This battle continues week after week, year after year, until the fed-up author declares that "nothing is dumber than war." The deceptively simple text may lead to interesting family or schoolroom discussions. Despite its earnest message, the book is fun, both to look at and hear.

One Boy From Kosovo
Fall 2000 Recommended Fiction
By Trish Marx
Harper Collins; ISBN: 0-688-17732-8
$15.95, Ages 7-11 yrs.

This book is a compassionate pictorial essay of an Albanian family’s experiences as they are forced to leave their home in Kosovo and move to a refugee camp in Macedonia. The text is straightforward, the photographs are eloquent and the book ends with hope.

Baseball Saved Us
1995 Silver Honor Paperback
Written By Ken Mochizuki, Illustrated By Dom Lee
Lee & Low Books; ISBN: 1-880000-19-9
$6.95; Ages 6-11 yrs.

The story of a young Japanese-American boy whose family was uprooted to a desert camp during World War II. In an attempt to make things better for the children in the camps, the parents formed baseball games. Read how the lessons the main character learns on the baseball diamond carry with him throughout his life. Beautifully illustrated with a sense of times past.

Star of Fear, Star of Hope
Spring 2001 Noteworthy Paperback
Written By Jo Hoestlandt, Illustrated By Johanna Kang
Walker and Company Books for Young Readers; ISBN: 0802775888
Ages 7-11 yrs.

First published in 1995, this is a moving story of two best friends - one of them Jewish- in France during the Nazi occupation. It confronts the Holocaust in terms a child can begin to understand.

Ghost Wings
Spring 2001 Recommended Fiction
Written By Barbara M Joosse, Illustrated By Giselle Potter
Chronicle Books; ISBN: 0-8118-2164-1
Ages 3-8 yrs.

After her grandmother dies, a little girl comes to realize that death and change are parts of the circle of life. The illustrations, in muted pastels, convey the cool air of Mexican pine forests as well as the somber emotions of this tale.

Face & Fight Fear © Parents' Choice 2001

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