Monday, December 11, 2017

PBT Redux #15 Shooting at the Stars

Picture Book: Shooting at the Stars:                                                                   The Christmas Truce of 1914
Author & Illustrator: John Hendrix
Summary: A letter to his mother from Charlie, a fictional British WWI soldier, serves as the framework for this tale about one of many WWI Christmas Eve truces in 1914. 
In this case, the temporary cease fire begins with Christmas carols heard from the German trenches. 
Then small Christmas trees appear. Next a can of jam is thrown from the British trench. A British and a German officer meet in the middle of the battleground, shake hands, and signal their soldiers to come forward. 
Soldiers from both sides introduce themselves in “no man’s land.” Together they bury their dead. 
Then trading tokens to substitute for Christmas gifts begins. Photographs are taken. 
One is in the back of the book. 
After several hours, a furious British major arrives and orders them to separate and begin shooting. 
Charlie suspects they will aim high, shooting at the stars, at least for a while. 
Hanna's Comments: This is such an important story! It will intrigue your audience and inspire loads of comments. Insist that they connect this story to the Advent of today or your lesson won't be transformative. A glossary, bibliography, and index are in the back too. They explain that such truces didn't happen the other years of WWI. Thematically, this story and its supplemental material emphasize the contrast between the suffering soldiers stuck in the trenches who long for peace 
and the outside political and military forces that keep them there for 4 long years. It is a hard story to hear but an important one. Non-Christians should be comfortable using this book since Christian doctrine is not mentioned. 
Publisher & Date of Publication: Harry N. Abrams, 2014
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3rd and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: When the ways of people please the Lord, he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them (Proverbs 16:7); blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God (Matthew 5:9); if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18); let him seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11)
Idea(s) for Application: This would be a great book to read to an audience of elementary age and up during the week before Christmas. Emphasize the theme of peace and how it requires risk and trust. Consider today's battles, military and otherwise, to make this book particularly meaningful. Peace isn't easy still, but it's worth meaningful conversation, because hope for peace is what Advent is all about.