Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

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Bibliography

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: growing up in Hitler’s Shadow. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2005. ISBN 0439353793

Plot Summary

This book follows the lives of a group of young people in Germany from the time just before Adolf Hitler rose to power through the end of World War II. Susan Campbell Bartoletti tells the story of the Holocaust through the experiences and memories of children and teenagers who were members of the Hitler Youth organization and some who spoke out against the atrocities being committed.

Critical Analysis

Susan Campbell Bartoletti has published a number of informational books that have been well-reviewed and well-received and Hitler Youth is no exception. There is no doubt that Bartoletti’s account of a handful of youth in Hitler’s Germany is accurate. At the end of the book, there is an author’s note that explains Bartoletti’s two year research journey that spanned two continents. She began in Washington D.C. in the National Archives, Library of Congress, and the Holocaust Museum. She then traveled to Germany where she visited several different cities and sites relevant to the Nazi reign. Bartoletti sought out former Hitler Youth and Jewish people who were children and teens during the time period. She conducted interviews in person, over the phone, and through e-mail. Bartoletti also collected photographs from her research in government archives and from the personal albums of people with whom she met. All of these sources and photographs are meticulously documented at the end of the book and are referenced within the text. Every quote in the text is referenced and cited in the volume. Bartoletti does an excellent job of presenting the facts without bias. She states the opinions and views of the people she writes about, but there is always a source material to back up these views. In the few instances where Bartoletti shares the general opinion of the public at that time in history, she takes care to advise the reader that it is an opinion. The audio version of this book includes the author’s note in which she explains her research process but lacks the quote sources section and the bibliography section. The listener can still deduce though that Bartoletti’s work is accurate.

This book about the youth of Germany and the Hitler Youth organization follows the development of the organization and the progression of the war and the acts of violence in chronological order. It begins with a foreword explaining the fact that the book is not about Adolf Hitler, but about the youth in Germany during his reign. Each subsequent chapter deals with a different period of growth and action for the Hitler Youth organization. A table of contents is present at the beginning of the book and is very easy to read and understand. There are also clearly marked page numbers throughout the book to make it easier on readers to find the information they need. There are clear titles and labels at the beginning of each chapter as well. At the end of the book, there is a complete index and a timeline of the Hitler Youth to assist readers and enhance the reading experience. The audio version of this book lacks the assistance of the table of contents, index, timeline, and page numbers, but is still organized in a logical manner and flows well.

The book itself is a little physically daunting, measuring an approximate ten and a half inches square and close to one inch thick with one hundred seventy-six pages. The generous interspersing of photographs and maps throughout the text however, make it accessible. A photograph on the cover grabs readers’ interest from the start. A young boy with flawless alabaster skin stares into the camera as strong hands grasp his shoulders. The reader cannot see the entire face that belongs to those hands, but the tell-tale mustache says it all: Hitler. Each photograph contained in the book evokes the same deep, raw emotions and enhances the stories of the characters shared in the book. The pictures and their accompanying captions are present on almost every page, but are never intrusive or overwhelming. Bartoletti strikes an elegant balance between text and photograph that conveys the seriousness of the subject matter as well as the reality that her characters were merely children while taking part in the horrible atrocities being committed. The audio version of the book is very intoxicating to listen to. The narrator has the hint of a German accent and pronounces names, places, and German words flawlessly.

Accounts of the Holocaust are often hard to read, and while there is definitely a somber mood throughout Bartoletti’s book, she tells the stories of these twelve young people in such a beautiful way that the reader begins to identify with parts of them and begins to feel sorry for them. By the end of the book, the reader has spent so much time with these twelve, it feels like parting ways with family. Through the author’s note and through the text of the book itself, Bartoletti makes it clear that she is passionate about sharing the lives and stories of the young people of Hitler’s Germany. This fresh look at the Holocaust and Nazi Germany shares a wealth of information without inundating the reader all while encouraging the reader to look at this time in history from a different perspective. The reader is left to ponder the culpability of the Hitler Youth and to ache over the innocence lost. Bartoletti’s words also make the reader want to learn more about each young person and their activities during the war, especially the resistance movement of two siblings in the group.

Hitler Youth is a deeply interesting account of twelve young people and their role in the Holocaust. The people Bartoletti chose to write about are intriguing personalities and the author does a great job of helping her reader to identify with them. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book, but I was also glad that I checked out the print version so that I could take advantage of all the access features and enjoy the photographs.

Review Excerpts

Parents’ Choice Gold Seal Award

( WON AWARD in 2005 )

School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

( WON AWARD in 2005 )

American Library Association Notable Books for Children

( WON AWARD in 2006 )

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2006 )

Carolyn W. Field Award (Pennsylvania Library Association)

( WON AWARD in 2006 )

Virginia Reader’s Choice Awards

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2007 )

Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2007 )

Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2007 )

Great Lakes’ Great Books Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2007 )

Newbery Medal

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2006 ) (HONOR BOOK)

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2006 )  (HONOR BOOK)

“The large period photographs are a primary component and they include Nazi propaganda showing happy and healthy teens as well as the reality of concentration camps and young people with large guns. The final chapter superbly summarizes the weighty significance of this part of the 20th century and challenges young readers to prevent history from repeating itself. Bartoletti lets many of the subjects’ words, emotions, and deeds speak for themselves, bringing them together clearly to tell this story unlike anyone else has.” –Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL in School Library Journal, June 2005

“Narrator Kathrin Kana possesses an excellent German pronunciation, which emphasizes the authenticity of people and places for listeners… In addition, Bartoletti reads a foreword and an author’s note about her work.” — Publisher’s Weekly, March 2007 (about audio version)

“The handsome book design, with black-and-white historical photos on every double-page spread, will draw in readers and help spark deep discussion, which will extend beyond the Holocaust curriculum. The extensive back matter is a part of the gripping narrative.” — Booklist, April 2005

“While many books for the young have chronicled the experiences of Hitler’s victims, far fewer have looked at the impact of Nazi ideology on those who subscribed to it. As Bartoletti writes in the preface to this provocative account, “”Hitler counted on Germany’s boys and girls.”” — Horn Book Magazine, May 2005

Connections

Play the audio version of the book and have students follow along in the print edition. Get as many copies as possible and have students share books where necessary.

Pair with a historical fiction book by Bartoletti which takes a closer look at one of the young men in this book:

         -The Boy Who Dared, ISBN 9780439680134

Use the book A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika by Alfons Heck, one of the Hitler Youth members in Bartoletti’s book. While this is an adult book, excerpts from it can be used to highlight sections of Bartoletti’s title that feature Heck.

Take students to a Holocaust museum, if you are in an area that has one.

Locate a local Holocaust survivor, or former Hitler Youth member to come and speak.

Show excerpts from the documentary, “Heil Hitler: Confessions of a Hitler Youth”, which can be found on youTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ6umV7CVY8

Have students pick one of the young people in the book and create a collage or a facebook page based on what they have learned about that person.

Image from Amazon.com, accessed March 22, 2015. Cover art property of Scholastic, Inc.

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Bones by Steve Jenkins

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Bibliography

Jenkins, Steve. Bones: Skeletons and How They Work. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010. ISBN 9780545046510

Plot Summary

Steve Jenkins introduces the bones of the human skeleton, tells how they work, and compares them to the bones and skeletons of several different animals. Some of the bones are shown in actual size.

Critical Analysis

Jenkins’ book about bones and how they work contains no bibliography, notes, or anything else indicating the origin of the information used. The sole indicator of credibility is a thank you to the collection manager of the Department of Mammology at the American Museum of Natural History for consulting on the book. The fact that this authority on mammal information consulted on the book and signed off on it gives the reader reasonable assurance that the book is indeed accurate. In addition, an adult such as a parent, teacher, or librarian with a basic anatomy and biology education can deduce for him or herself that the book is accurate overall. Lastly, the proliferation and award-winning reputation of Steve Jenkins’ non-fiction picture books tells the reader they can rely on the information provided.

The book is organized well with explanatory text at the beginning of each section followed by several illustrations as examples. The illustrations are clearly labeled and the reader does not need to guess where he or she should go next.  The book starts out with a general overview of bones and then proceeds to break down the skeleton into smaller sections. Within each section (arm/hand, leg/feet, support bones, protection bones, heads, bone connections, etc.), Jenkins provides illustrations of several different species, clearly labeled, to compare that particular category of bone. There is no table of contents or index, but there is a title heading of sorts at the beginning of each new section of the skeleton that helps readers orient themselves.

The seemingly smiling human skull on a red background that fills almost the entire cover hooks readers upon first sight. Then the bone colored cut paper collage illustrations on bold, solid colored backgrounds make the book inviting and readable. The random, interesting facts keep the reader engaged and entertained throughout. The illustrations perfectly complement the text and make the subject clear and easy to understand.

Jenkins uses his words effectively to get to the point and captivate readers with random bits of trivia about bones and how they work. He presents the information in a direct manner, using simple language that is not too watered down or too advanced for children to understand. The zeal with which Jenkins writes each book and the volume of informational books he has written demonstrate his passion for sharing information with children. This book from Jenkins provides children with a good amount of solid information, but also allows children to begin exploring this subject more and encourages them to seek more information on the topic as well as to read more of Jenkins’ titles.

This is a great book to share with children who are learning about the skeletal system for the first time in school or for children who are simply interested in bones and how they work. The bold colors and illustrations really help to make the book stand out on a shelf.

Review Excerpts

American Library Association Notable Books for Children

( WON AWARD in 2011 )

Land of Enchantment Book Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2012 )

Prairie Pasque Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2012 )

“Bones of all shapes and sizes glow like jewels on richly colored backgrounds, allowing readers to pore over each and every nuance of Jenkins’s intricate cut-paper illustrations.” — Horn Book Magazine, 2010

“But the clean design of the intricate skeletons set against solid background colors is striking and provides a wonderful visual introduction to what keeps us all upright. Thoughtful back matter probes deeper into bone-related science concepts.” — Booklist, May 2010

“From the life-sized human skull grinning out from the brick-red cover to a complete skeleton waving goodbye from a gatefold late in the book, bones are given an entertaining and fresh treatment.” — School Library Journal, July 2010

Connections

Read other nonfiction books by Steve Jenkins:

  • Actual Size, ISBN 9780547512914
  • What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?, ISBN 9780618997138
  • Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World, ISBN 9780547959078

Read other books about bones and skeletons:

  • Dem Bones (Avenues) by Bob Barner, ISBN 9780811808279
  • Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney, ISBN 9780375806230

Have students work together to complete a skeleton floor puzzle

Let students pick a favorite animal and have them compare and contrast the bones of that animal and themselves (a human)

Link the book to science lessons by having students label the skeletons of a human and several animals

Image from Amazon.com, accessed March 18, 2015. Cover art by Steve Jenkins.

Drawing From Memory by Allen Say

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Bibliography

Say, Allen. Drawing From Memory. New York: Scholastic Press, 2011. ISBN 9780545176866

Plot Summary

Allen Say recounts the events of his life that led him to be the artist and author he is today. He takes readers through his parents’ divorce, his moving into an apartment at age 12 to study, how he apprentices himself to a famous Japanese cartoonist, the subsequent training and relationship with that mentor, and finally his leaving Japan for the United States. The main focus of the work is the relationship between Say and his mentor, Noro Shinpei.

Critical Analysis

In this autobiographical picture book meets graphic novel, Allen Say includes information about Japan after World War II, such as the fact that U.S. troops had occupied Japan by his eighth birthday on August 28, 1945. A quick internet search on the history of Occupied Japan reveals that this is accurate. In addition, the rest of the information included about Say, his family, his mentor and fellow mentee, and his comings and goings can be counted as accurate since Say himself experienced them and then put them into this book.

The organization of this book leaves a little to be desired. One review referred to it as a collage style, but the combination of photographs, drawings, and sketches results in a cluttered landscape. Some illustrations are full-page, some take up a small corner of a page. Some of the illustrations are accompanied by a paragraph of text while some merely boast a small caption. The book follows a clear sequence in that Say starts with his birth and moves chronologically through his life, but each page is not clearly sequenced. Some of the pages are laid out very logically and are easy to follow, but others are jumbled and leave the reader to guess which spot he or she should jump to next. There are no reference aids to assist readers in locating information, but then again, the book does read more like a graphic novel, so it is not entirely surprising that there is no table of contents, index, etc. There is a four and a half page author’s note at the end of the book that provides more background information, photographs, and a back story for why Say wrote this particular book. The note is a welcome addition to the main text of the book and leaves the reader with a deeper look into Say’s life.

Cartoon drawings, sketches, photographs, and the use of both color and black and white make this book very attractive and inviting to a reader who picks up the title and flips through it. If the reader can pick the correct path through each page, the information is interesting and the different types of illustrations, which include drawings and sketches by Say as well as Noro Shinpei and photographs from Say’s personal collection, highlight and enhance the text beautifully. The design elements communicate the subject matter clearly and effectively, but those elements suffer from the poor organization of the book.

Say’s style shines through this work and readers also have a chance to see where that style began and to watch some of it’s progression and development. It is clear from the narrative as well as from Say’s sketches and cartoon drawings that he is passionate about his work as an artist. The language of this book is suitable for the age range (10 years and up) without being too childish. This book could also be enjoyed by adults. Say ends the book with his departure for the United States, leaving readers eager to learn what happened in his life in the years since he left Japan and to find out more about him by reading more of his books. Say is able to communicate important events and times in his life to readers without overwhelming them.

This account of Allen Say’s time in Japan and his relationship with his mentor, Noro Shinpei, is an enjoyable read with great illustrations and pictures and an intriguing story. In my opinion, the only drawback is the poor organization.

Review Excerpts

School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

( WON AWARD in 2011 )

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2012 )

American Library Association Notable Books for Children

( WON AWARD in 2012 )

“Say tells the story of his decidedly nontraditional Japanese upbringing, supplying watercolors, photographs, and humorous sketches to create a vivid record of life in postwar Tokyo…As the story of a young artist’s coming of age, Say’s account is complex, poignant, and unfailingly honest.” — Publisher’s Weekly, June 2011

“This rendering of Say’s adolescence–a coming-of-age story within the context of a long life and vocation–takes the form of an album, with text, photographs, drawings, and paintings.” — Horn Book Guide, January 2012

“This captivating and seamless melding of words and brilliant pictures provides the lens of memory and inspiration.” — School Library Journal, December 2011

Connections

Read some of Allen Say’s books:

  • Grandfather’s Journey, ISBN 9780547076805
  • Emma’s Rug, ISBN 9780618335237
  • Tea With Milk, ISBN 9780547237473

Have students draw a cartoon sequence of a series of events in their own life.

Have students make a poster or bookmark advertising Allen Say.

Find a local cartoonist and have them speak to the class. Then compare their story of becoming an artist with that of Allen Say’s.

Allen Say wanted to be a cartoonist, so he sought out a mentor. Have students identify something they would like to do and then draw a concept map or cartoon sequence of the steps they would take in order to achieve the goal.

Image from Amazon.com, accessed February 18, 2015. Cover art by Allen Say.