Franklin And Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Barry Moser

Candlewick Press, 2011

This is a nonfiction picture book and a fairly sophisticated one. It sets the scene of the war and introduces the two important world leaders so that even children with very little knowledge of the war can follow the story. The story is framed by one historic visit between the two leaders over Christmas—the visit that ended in the alliance of the United States and Great Britain.

Wood and Moser have done a wonderful job of presenting these two world leaders in the context of their work. The painted pictures are clear and striking and many will appeal to children who are interested in ships and planes. The story is told with humor, including an anecdote in which FDR walks in on Churchill getting out of the bath. The text skillfully weaves in details of the visit as well as quotes from the leaders’ conversations and Christmas speeches. Finally, the end notes include bullet points of the achievements accomplished during the Christmas visit, an author’s note, and a bibliography.

The publisher suggests that the audience for this book is grades 1-4. I’d be inclined to bump it up at least a year unless a class is studying one of the men or the war. There’s a lot of text, and though it’s written in a manner that would be easy for early elementary students to listen to, I’m not sure how much most 1st or even 2nd graders would get out of it. Students from 3rd to 6th grade would be more able to understand the leaders’ turns of phrase and to contemplate this story of one important visit in the background of a world gone to war. A great book for kids who are passionately interested in World War II or for a class studying the war together.

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