Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow & The Boy Who Dared

Special double review!!! These two books are my favorite companion books and felt that they should be reviewed together, so I am sharing them both.  A 2 for 1 special :)

Title: The Boy Who Dared
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2008
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
Summary: Helmuth Hubener thought that Hitler was going to fix Germany, but the longer Hitler was in power, the more Helmuth realized that there was social injustice happening. 
What I Think: Based on a true story, The Boy Who Dared, accounts Helmuth's life and the choices he makes. Told in flashback, I felt that some of the suspense is taken away since you know Helmuth's current situation right from the beginning of the story; however, even with knowing the outcome, I wanted to read to figure out how Helmuth got there. 

The exposition of the book helped me understand the extent of Helmuth's society at the time which made me even more sympathetic then I would have been just jumping into Helmuth's life. Although we all know about World War II and the Holocaust, unless you have read other books on World War II Germany, you may not understand the extent of Hitler's power and brainwashing. With The Boy Who Dared, we follow Helmuth through his feelings about Hitler and the decisions he made.

This book is fabulous to read with the nonfiction book by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Hitler Youth, which recounts the history around the Hitler Youth and what Helmuth was living through. (Hitler Youth reviewed below!)

Read Together: Grades 4 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 10
Snatch of Text: "It's morning.  Soft gray lights slips over the tall redbrick wall.  It stretches across the exercise yard and reaches through the high, barred windows.  In a cell on the ground floor, the light shifts dark shapes into a small stool, a scrawny table, and a bed made of wooden boards with no mattress or blanket.  On that bed, a thin, huddled figure, Helmuth, a boy of seventeen, lies awake.  Shivering. Trembling.
It's Tuesday.
The executioner works on Tuesday." (p. 1)

"It grinds Helmuth's stomach, the way Hugo makes all the decisions, as if he is the father." (p. 39)

"A sparrow flits by.  Nearly tempts him to the window, but he stops himself.  Wants tot save the best part off the afternoon for later.  Doesnt' want to sit, either.  As so he paces.  Eight steps the length of the cell.  He pushes off the back wall, turns, takes eight steps back, pushes off the front wall.  Back and forth, back and forth." (p. 74)

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Title: Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction
Publication Date: 2005
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Novel
Summary: During World War II, Hitler controlled more than just the military; he controlled the entire country of Germany. Much of what this book explains are parts of the WWII history that is not taught in our schools and shows the true extent of the power that Hitler had over everyone. 

The Hitler Youth began as a voluntary organization to support Hitler, but it quickly became a way for Hitler to control the youth. Soon the Hitler Youth was not voluntary and they were being used in much the same way as the military. 

What I Think: This book tells true stories of children in the Hitler Youth and children that were brave enough to speak up. It is truly horrific and fascinating. Susan Campbell Bartoletti uses a combination of narrative and expository writing to take her reader on a journey through Nazi controlled Germany starting with their depression and taking us through the the end of World War II. By intertwining true stories of the youth of Germany with historical fact, Bartoletti pulls at your heart strings and shows the true effect that Hitler had on the entire nation. It also takes you through the steps that Hitler took to brainwash the entire population, starting with the most desperate citizens, including the youth. 

Although many nonfiction books are hard to get through and are dry, this one has a voice to it that is deeper and more sensitive than most. You become connected to the people of Germany and the youth of the story, so it doesn't matter if that I already know the outcome- you have to know how they make it out of their deceit filled situation.

Read Together: Grades 4 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 10
Snatch of Text: "The dark streets were already flooded with thousands of excited people, who, like Melita, were running out to watch the victory parade in honor of Adolf Hitler... Melita couldn't understand why her parents didn't support a great man like Adolf Hitler, who said that a person's money and titles didn't matter.  All that mattered was whether a person contributed to the well-being of the people." (p. 15-16)

"Throughout the war, Alfons saw so many mangled bodies that he felt immune to the horrors of war.  But one day a superior officer shocked him, saying, 'Do you know that we are slaughtering tens of thousands of Jews and other subhumans every day in Poland and Russia?"
Stunned, Alfsons looked at the officer.  He was a decorated war hero who had been reassigned to the Hitler Youth after he had lost his left are in battle.   But despite the officer's rank and experience, Alfons refused to believe that the Nazis would systematically murder people, and he told him so.
Furious, the officer swore at Alfons, " Hasn't it occurred to you yet that you and I are serving a mass murderer?"

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Read Both Books With: Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayers, Alfons Heck & Helen Waterford, Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Resistance: Book One by Carla Jablonski, London Calling by Edward Bloor
Reading Strategies to Practice with Both Books: Making connections, Asking questions
Writing Strategies to Practice with Both Books: Attention grabbers, Dual/Parallel story lines, Characterization, Multiple Perspectives, Narrative Nonfiction
Writing Prompts: After reading both books, why was Hitler able to manipulate and affect the youth of Germany the way he did?
Topics Covered: Cross curricular- Social Studies, Hitler Youth, War, Choice, Death, Fear, Loyalty, Mistakes, Prejudice
Translated to Spanish: No

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