From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–In 1914, British and German troops were dug into trenches in France, facing one another across the barbed wire and barren ground called No Man's Land. On Christmas Eve, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing Stille Nacht
and joined in. Spontaneously, soldiers on both sides climbed out of their trenches and met in between the lines, sharing small gifts, food, and drink. They played a game of soccer. Then they went back to their trenches. The next day, the shooting resumed. McCutcheon's account of this true event is based on a song he wrote about it in 1984. An accompanying CD includes that song, Silent Night/Stille Nacht
, and a reading of the story. Sørenson's illustrations sanitize trench warfare somewhat. Michael Foreman's War Game
(Pavillion, 2002) is a more sophisticated–and somewhat more cynical–presentation of this same Christmas truce.–Virginia Walter, University of California, Los Angeles
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Gr. 2-4. After Christmas dinner, Grandpa tells Thomas and Nora about his unforgettable Christmas Eve as a young soldier back in 1914, when German and Allied soldiers stopped fighting and came together to celebrate the holiday. They sang Christmas carols (including "Silent Night"), shared small gifts, and played music and soccer in No Man's Land. But as dawn broke, they returned to their separate trenches, waiting for the bombs, battles, and killing to begin again. The story is based on folksinger McCutcheon's song by the same name, which is printed in full at the end of the book, and the the text is clear and lyrical ("in two tongues one song filled the night sky"). Sorensen's beautiful double-page spreads in sepia shades show the young men from the two sides celebrating together--with individuals just like them. Lengthy notes fill in the history and present an impassioned call for peace. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved