‘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.

‘The Butterfly’ – 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:  The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco (2000, Philomel)

Time to Read: a moving story of history and childhood captured in a children’s book for bedtime or anytime reading

Summary:  Publishers Weekly wrote, for ages 4-8, “Polacco continues to mine her family history, this time telling the story of an aunt’s childhood in wartime France. Young Monique doesn’t comprehend the brutality of the Nazis’ mission until the day three German soldiers find her admiring a butterfly…then grabs the butterfly and crushes it in his fist. The butterfly, or papillon as it is frequently called here, becomes for Monique a symbol of the Nazis’ victims. Her sympathies are quickly focused: one night Monique wakes up to discover a girl in her bedroom and learns that she and her parents, Jews, have been hiding for months in Monique’s house, protected by Monique’s mother. The girl, Sevrine, has been forbidden to leave the hiding place, so she and Monique meet secretly. Then a neighbor sees the two girls at the window one night, and Sevrine’s family must flee…”

Best Quote:  “They both watched as butterflies started to land on the dry stalks of faded flowers.  First there were three, then ten, then twenty and thirty.  Neighbors came out fo their cottages and peered over the wall in wonder.”

Our View:  I was stunned by this children’s book.  It is one of those books that you want everyone to know about and read.  I urge you to find it and read it with your family.  We read the first pages knowing very little about where the plot would take us, so each page was a treasure and a surprise and painful and wonderful and mysterious and ultimately uplifting.  The author’s note about the actual history behind the story is worth its weight in gold.  This is an important work that has become an instant classic at our house.  The book we are most familiar with from this author is Pink and Say (1994, Philomel).  We’ll review that one here soon!

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Butterflies Rising” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.