Monday, May 06, 2013

Tell Me Why... Why Did the Whole World Go to War? and Other Questions about. World War II by Martin W. Sandler


Those who went off to war faced many hardships. But those they left behind had a hard time, too.

Food was in short supply at home. The government rationed sugar, milk, eggs, butter, and meat.

No new cars were made during the war. Gasoline was strictly rationed. There were no tires for sale.

The war greatly changed the lives of women. Most men were away fighting. Hundreds of thousands of women went to work. They did most of the work men had done. They made airplanes, ships, and guns.

The most singular event of the twentieth century, World War II is a vast subject with great complexities. Still, children have to start somewhere, and Sterling Books' Why Did the Whole World Go to War?: And Other Questions About... World War II (Good Question!) (Sterling, 2013) is a good nutshell view in question-and-answer format which introduces the period and piques a young reader's interest.

Author Martin Sandler avoids the obvious temptation to jump from one battle to the next: While he hits the big events--Hitler's Blitzkrieg invasion of Poland, Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, Battle of the Bulge, Stalingrad, D-Day, Hiroshima--he also gives thumbnail sketches of other  fascinating bits of  history--the Tuskegee airmen, the spies who cracked the German communications code, resistance fighters, Anne Frank and the Holocaust, and the personalities of the opposing leaders. Simple, color-coded maps, such as the one showing Nazi occupation of Europe in 1941, tell the story in a glance, and Robert Barnett's full-page dramatic sepia-toned illustrations and inset period photographs set off each double-page spread. A one-page timeline appendix puts the big events in historical perspective.

World War II is a fascinating subject, the knowledge of which is essential to understanding current world events, and each topic in this brief survey opens up an area--the home front, the Blitz, the race to build the  bomb, the generals and the spies, the air war-- for further reading in a myriad of great books, fiction and nonfiction on all levels, a good springboard for a whole summer's reading. "Concise, accessible, comprehensive looks at important eras and events in U.S. history," says School Library Journal.

Other books in the kid-friendly Good Questions series include Did It All Start with a Snowball Fight?: And Other Questions About...The American Revolution (Good Question!), What Was Your Dream, Dr. King?: And Other Questions About... Martin Luther King Jr. (Good Question!), and How Many Planets Circle the Sun?: And Other Questions about Our Solar System (Good Question!).

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