A mother and daughter's homegrown relief effort, which spanned a year and a half and aided numerous German families after World War II, is the subject of Judge's debut picture book. Judge's lyrical prose tells the true and poignant story of her grandmother and mother's endeavor to find shoes, clothing and foodstuffs for hundreds of Germans devastated by the war. When Judge's grandmother receives a letter from German friends describing their poverty, she sends them a Christmas package and promptly receives back additional requests for help. These appeals for assistance often include tracings of feet (sometimes cut from German newspapers) so that shoes might be found to match. "The men fought their battles during the war./ Now Mama and I fought our own battle./ A battle to keep families alive." The young daughter's narration offers a child's perspective on the tragedies and hope of the era, making the story especially accessible to young audiences. Softly rendered watercolor bleeds portray the quiet emotions of mother and daughter, often in close-ups, as they match donated shoes to the tracings or call upon neighbors to help. Photographs of some of the actual tracings and of several families who were helped are included in endpaper collages. The book is a powerful testament to one family's ability to affect the lives of hundreds. A concluding author's note describes the lasting friendships this goodwill effort fostered. Ages 5-9. (July)[Page 59]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 2-5-- After she discovered a box containing hundreds of tracings of feet in her grandparents' attic, Judge wrote this story of their generosity following World War II in the voice of her mother, a child at the time. When the Hamerstroms received a letter from their German friend, Dr. Kramer, informing them of his family's dire need in the war's aftermath, they mailed food and clothing. His thank-you note contained the plea: "Please send no more to me. Help others." Kramer provided names along with so many foot tracings for shoes that the Hamerstroms began a letter campaign asking other American families for help. They knitted, collected clothing and shoes, and mailed an ever greater number of packages. The exchange resulted in a friendship between the narrator and a young German girl, Eliza. The gift of a rag doll for Eliza was repaid with a painting of a swallow. Each page of text describes activities between 1946 and 1948, and several are punctuated with quotes from actual letters. The soft-edged paintings are colorful and fluid and create a strong sense of time and place. Collages of letters, foot tracings, and original photographs heighten awareness of the suffering brought upon thousands in war-torn Europe. Judge's endnote describes her attic discovery. This unique and important book illustrates how reaching out to others, even those once considered the "enemy," can help to heal the wounds of war.--Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT[Page 92]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.