‘Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot’ – Tuesday’s Look at this Book!


* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page.


Today’s great book: Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenbuyzen (2002, Sleeping Bear Press)

The Author’s Website:  http://www.margotraven.com/Pages/default.aspx

The Illustrator’s Website:  http://hazelridgefarm.com/books.html

Awards:  2003 Children’s Choice Award; IRA 2002 Midwest Independent Publisher Merit Award; and the 2004-05 Children’s Crown Honor Award – 2004-05 Show me Award

Time to Read: we read it just before bed and it took about 10-15 minutes with a few extra minutes to talk about the history and read the epilogue.

Summary:  from the inside cover…A true story of the 1948 humanitarian rescue mission, the Berlin Airlift, and the candy that dropped from the sky…[The story of] a seven-year old girl named Mercedes who lived in West Berlin during the airlift and [Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen] who came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot.

Best Quote from the Book:  “The memory of this day would stay with her for the rest of her life.”

Our View:  This book is among our newest finds and is already a treasure in our book room.  This is a truly powerful tale of history and children that is beautifully illustrated.  It is not only a work of art, but of literary worth and will take your breath away as you read the conclusion of the story and hear what has since happened to each of the people in the story.  The girls and I read this book just before bedtime and it propelled us into a discussion of war and worry and children and life in difficult times.  It is also a glorious story of chocolate and the magic that it can work even in difficult times.  The heroes are plentiful in this wonderful book.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – Wild Blue Yonder Chocolate Cake!  – created by the kids for this particular book.

Books and Candy

We were talking with a friend last week when the subject turned to, of all things, Turkish Delight. Have you heard of it? My introduction to the candy came when I read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (first published in 1950) as a boy – but it gained wider popularity when the sugary confection was used so well in the movie of that book that debuted in 2005. Our friend insisted that we try some, so we ordered the variety box – rose, mint, hazelnut, pistachio, lime, and lemon – and it’s really pretty good.

Turkish Delight and a great book!

I remember when our daughter was in elementary school and one of her outstanding teachers read the book to the class and then masterminded the coolest Narnia party I had ever seen. Turkish Delight was THE dessert at that party and my daughter and her friends were so intrigued by it, especially because of the way Lewis used it in his book as the sweet element that would lure the boy Edmund into the White Witch’s sour world.

During that time, our daughter would come home from school and relate nearly every detail of the book to us – her teacher was reading it to them every day, a few pages at a time. The only way I know to describe what I saw in her eyes and heard in her voice then was just how it struck her young imagination with such force. The book represented to her mind such a different kind of adventure, a literary work of importance in which the characters were so well-developed and thoroughly interesting that, to her, it didn’t feel like the “normal” children’s book. It was as though the author thought she was smart enough to get it..a chapter book with many unusual and descriptive words, just a few well-placed illustrations, intriguing locations such as Cair Paravel and the Castle of the Four Thrones, and…Turkish Delight.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest,” and, “No book is really worth reading at age ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty – except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all.”

I couldn’t agree more, especially after reading so many children’s stories (picture books, novels, and series) with my daughters over the past 18 years. Choosing a book to read with your kids is a special undertaking, so as another great adventure movie character once taught us, “Choose, but choose wisely.” A variety box of Turkish Delight (choose wisely here too) doesn’t hurt either.

Look for the recipe for Turkish Delight on our Book Cook page!