Saturday, November 25, 2017

Shooting at the stars the Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix

"Every man on the front, no matter what his uniform, was cold, fearful, and with out hope of returning home anytime soon. Although these soldiers were at war and spoke different languages, the English, French, and Germans shared much - songs, faith, and a deep love of Christmas. This is the true story of what happened one cold winter evening."

This is the perfect to pair with Christmas in the Trenches and with the anniversary of the end of WWI next year I am sure there will be renewed interest in books set at that time. This pair of books are also good to share at Christmas with older students - giving them a different and important perspective about war.

Shooting at the stars takes the form of  a letter written in a rough hand printed style.  "Was I really finishing school only a few month ago?"  The young soldier, Charlie, describes the trenches, the rain, the mud and the rats. Then he goes on to talk about Christmas eve 1914.  "When we stepped outdoors we heard the sounds of singing."

"I didn't know what was happening, but it wasn't war! For one glorious Christmas morning, war had taken a holiday."  And so the men bury their dead, talk to each other, take photographs and exchange small gifts.

Even though they were ordered back to the fighting and events like this were never repeated.  You can read more here on the BBC web site.  Also in this book you will find detailed historical notes and an excellent prologue which sets the scene.

Charlie writes :

"Altogether it was splendid day with our foes. Tomorrow I suppose we will all fight for our countries. And when the major returns we will have to follow his orders. But I suspect our side will spend the rest of the night aiming high above their trenches, shooting at the stars."

Here is a review where you can see some of the excellent art from this book.  Take a look at the author/illustrator web site to see more of his books.  Here is a set of teaching ideas to extend your students' understanding of these events.

Timed with the centenary of World War I but a lesson for always, Hendrix’s tale pulls young readers close and shows the human side of war.  Kirkus

No comments: