written and illustrated by John Hendrix
During the Christmas of 1914, a great and terrible war was being fought but something miraculous happened. Soldiers from both sides agreed upon a truce and celebrated Christmas together. A young British soldier writes home to his mother describing how soldiers who were supposed to be enemies shared songs, gifts and Christmas trees.
Firstly, this picture book is beautifully illustrated. It also doesn't shy away from depicting fallen soldiers. However, if you're worried about it being graphic. It isn't. It does not show gaping wounds or blood. Remember, it's a children's book.
I loved the fictional account of the main character. It really highlighted the humanity of the soldiers. That they were people with lives outside the conflict.
This picture book is interesting because from the beginning, it gives you the historical context of WWI. I really enjoyed the last few pages where the author included a bibliography of what he looked at during the writing process. He even included a historical photograph of a Christmas Truce from WWI. Hendrix even included a scene in the book of soldiers taking pictures together to mirror the archival photo. As an adult, I can appreciate this but I don't know if young children will. Maybe it will lead to an interesting discussion with your children as you read it together.
Overall, a really great picture book that takes a look at an event that does not receive enough attention.
In this same post, I would like to share one of my favorite foreign films, Joyeux Noel. It too is about the Christmas truce of 1914 and it is an amazing movie. One of the things I love about it is its range of experiences. On the battlefield, there are three groups: the Scottish, the French and the German. They are all given a voice. This movie is also fantastic at showing the politics and ideology behind warfare. Some of it will leave you in angry tears.
I do recommend the film to an older audience (i.e. 18 years of age or older) just because it has some content that may be considered disturbing and mature.