Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: The Winged Watchman

The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum

This is a fictional account of a family that lives in a windmill in Holland during the German occupation of World War II. It's fantastic. This good Catholic family (there are scenes in confession and Mass) offers sanctuary to those in hiding from the Germans and food to any who knock on their door during the terrible famines. There are glimpses and intrusions of the war on every page but because Father's job is necessary (so he can't be forced to labor for the Germans), the boys are too young to be drafted, and they are outside the cities where the food shortages are worst, the family is as warm and secure as they could be. Tragedy touches them before the end, but it's cushioned so I would be comfortable reading this book aloud to all ages. (I'm trying to shield the girls from the Holocaust for a while longer and First Son will only learn a small bit of it next year in third grade.)

The book gives wonderful opportunities for discussing some of the most difficult topics around war. Father Kobus and Joris discuss why God does not just stop the Germans from doing bad things with some great insights for young children. Later, Joris and his mother discuss why she is right to lie to an informer in order to protect three children living with them.

I fully intend to read this book aloud to my children, but I think I will wait until we're studying World War II in World History (when First Son is in fourth grade, First Daughter in first), mainly because I've decided to focus on life in America during World War II next year when we study it in American History.

Goodness, Beauty and Truth are at the heart of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it myself and highly recommend it.

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