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Shooting at the Stars Hardcover – October 7, 2014
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"Hendrix crafts an intimate fictional account of the event...powerful images."
"The acrylic and gouache illustrations tell a tale of their own. Not only is this an impressive Christmas story, but it shows the humanity of warring soldiers."
"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."
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Top Customer Reviews
Best for older children--mine are 7 and 9--and also for those who have an innate fascination with history, this book is sure to please everyone in you family, from the young to the old, generate talking points for discussion, and perhaps even suspend your own beliefs about what is the true meaning of Christmas.
It is extremely difficult to write a book for children about war. John Hendrix used his writing talent to skillfully convey the horror of war and also the human need for peace and joy especially at Christmas.
Much of the book is a fictionalized first hand account of this wonderful event of the Christmas truce in the form of a letter written by "Charlie" to his mother describing the event. This acount tells how the Allied forces were awakened by hearing German soldiers singing Silent Night and seeing Christmas trees decorated with candles and lanterns all along their trench line. A wonderful event folowed, showing the true spirit of Christmas. One of the Allied soldiers threw several cans of pear jam into the "No Man's Land" between the trenches as a Christmas gift to the German soldiers. A Christmas truce ensued and for one glorious Christmas morning war had taken a holiday. During this truce both sides had the unpleasant task of burying their dead and actually helped each other. German and British forces shook hands and wished each other, "Merry Christmas". The opposing forces took pictures of each other and traded things like uniform parts, biscuits and puddings. There was so much good feeling among the opposing forces that they actually played a game of football with an empty biscuit can. At the end of the day the truce is broken and the War continued for several years after. The commanding officers from the rear trench headquarters were furious about what had just happened and accused the Allied forces of acting like traitors to Britain. The orders went out to resume the battles, only this time there were a lot of British soldiers "shooting at the stars" instead of at the Germans! It was such a shame that that this spontaneous truce could not have spread into a lasting and permanent truce that would have shortened the war by several years.
I would recommend this book for children in grades three to six. Not only is it a well written fictionalized account of this wonderful World War I event but it teaches a valuable lesson that all men, regardless of their national allegiance ,have the same needs and desires for peace and joy which the Christmas message offers.