Monday, November 11, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Making Bombs for Hitler

Today is Remembrance Day. It's a day to think about the past and those who fought, the present and those who continue to fight, and the future and our dreams for peace.

I wanted to feature a book fitting the occasion, so I am reposting my thoughts on Making Bombs for Hitler by Canadian author, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. I also recommend these compelling middle grade stories related to war and how it affects families:

A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys
Cherry Blossom Winter by Jennifer Maruno

Today’s pick:  Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Scholastic Canada, 2012

Summary from Good Reads:
In this companion book to the award-winning Stolen Child, a young girl is forced into slave labour in a munitions factory in Nazi Germany.

In Stolen Child, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch introduced readers to Larissa, a victim of Hitler’s largely unknown Lebensborn program. In this companion novel, readers will learn the fate of Lida, her sister, who was also kidnapped by the Germans and forced into slave labour — an Osterbeiter.

In addition to her other tasks, Lida's small hands make her the perfect candidate to handle delicate munitions work, so she is sent to a factory that makes bombs. The gruelling work and conditions leave her severely malnourished and emotionally traumatized, but overriding all of this is her concern and determination to find out what happened to her vulnerable younger sister.

With rumours of the Allies turning the tide in the war, Lida and her friends conspire to sabotage the bombs to help block the Nazis’ war effort. When her work camp is finally liberated, she is able to begin her search to learn the fate of her sister.

In this exceptional novel Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch delivers a powerful story of hope and courage in the face of incredible odds.Lida and her younger sister are caught by the Nazis and separated. Lida is sent to a slave labour camp, where she works from dawn to dusk on only bread and soup. clad in one thin dress and no shoes. Even if she manages to survive the war, how will she find her sister again?

My Take: 
I couldn’t put this book down! Whenever I read about life in a work or concentration camp, I am shocked and saddened that people could ever treat other people in such a cruel and inhumane way. At times, this book made me feel very emotional. I was rooting for the main character, Lida, and her friends to survive. The author did a great job of creating a character that I cared about. I liked the way her research blended seamlessly into the story to create a compelling read. Now I want to read her other book about Lida’s sister, called Stolen Child.

As a writer, I would study this novel to see how every detail was portrayed through the main character's perspective. There is nothing unnecessary to the story here.

Other Info:

Marsha Skrypuch didn’t learn how to read until she was in grade 4, when she taught herself by reading the fat book, Oliver Twist.

Her book, Stolen Child, won the 2011 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Americas.

In an interesting interview with Debbie Spring for the Canscaip IBBY Interview Spotlight in September, 2012, Marsha says, “My own learning challenges made me the kind of writer that I am. I write the kinds of books that I would have liked to be able to read when I was a kid – complex and lots of action and not talking down to the reader.”
I recommend reading this fascinating interview for more about how Marsha does her research and her thoughts on the differences between books for adults and books for children. She says: “In children’s fiction, the reader steps into the shoes of the person who is experiencing the mistreatment, and that builds compassion.”

Other books by this author include:
Silver Threads - 1996
The Best Gifts - 1998
The Hunger - 1999
Enough - 2000
Hope's War - 2001
Nobody's Child - 2003
Aram's Choice - 2006
Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk, Spirit Lake, Quebec, 1914 - 2007
Daughter of War - 2008
Call Me Aram - 2009
Stolen Child - 2010
Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War - 2011
One Step At A Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way – 2012

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2). 



  1. Sounds like one of those books that brings readers right to that moment in history.

  2. I am totally amazed that the author didn't learn how to read until the fourth grade -- and then taught herself with Oliver Twist. Wow! What an amazing comeback. And this book must be heartwrenching. I agree it's shocking that people could ever treat other people that way.

  3. Dear Andrea,
    Thank you so much for choosing my book on Remembrance Day. I agree with you that Ruta Septys' Between Shades of Gray is an appropriate read for today as well, And also Jennifer Maruno's Cherry Blossom Winter. I have not yet read A Diamond in the Desert. It's going on my goodreads tbr list now.

  4. This sounds like a powerful historical that I should read. I've never heard of it before, so thank you for the feature.



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