“The power of books pervades this meaningful story based on true events.”
Anneliese doesn’t understand why the women try to clean the streets of rubble when the town will never be the same. With the nagging pain of hunger and the lingering heartache from losing her father in the war, Anneliese and her brother stumble upon a book exhibition, where “the lady with the books” introduces and engulfs the children in fun, relatable, hopeful, and resonating stories like Ferdinand the Bull, The Story of Babar, and Pippi Longstocking. One night, after eating a delicious stew due to the generosity of the farmer (and her mother’s selflessness trading an heirloom teapot and skill in catching a pigeon) and retiring to bed, Anneliese awakes and slips outside into the moonlight. She resolves to hope for a better future and join the women with their brooms the next day, but for now will sleep and dream, “like Ferdinand in his field of flowers.” This touching and powerful work of historical fiction is based on the true story of “the lady with the books,” Jella Lepman, who is introduced further in the inspiring back matter at the end of the book. This powerful story doesn’t shy away from or dwell on realities of war, leaving a predominant feeling of hope. Lafrance creatively integrates characters from the exhibition books peeking around the illustrations, adding additional hope to a city torn by war and further showcasing one of the powerful themes of the book, and Jella Lepman’s driving goal, of using books as “bridges of understanding.”
Inspired by true events, a fictionalized retelling of how one woman brought a world of books to children in Germany after World War II, and changed their lives forever.
Anneliese and Peter will never be the same after the war that took their father’s life. One day, while wandering the ruined streets of Munich, the children follow a line of people entering a building, thinking there may be free food inside. Instead, they are delighted to discover a great hall filled with children’s books —- more books than Anneliese can count. Here, they meet the lady with the books, who encourages the children to read as much as they want. And she invites them to come back the next day. Eventually, she will have a greater impact on the children’s lives than they could ever have imagined.
This moving picture book, written by beloved and award-winning author Kathy Stinson, is based on the real-life work of Jella Lepman, founder of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and the International Youth Library. Lepman’s collection of children’s books from around the world traveled throughout Germany after World War II in the hope of building ?bridges of understanding? between countries. Brought to life by highly acclaimed illustrator Marie Lafrance, this book carries an important message about international cooperation that still resonates with world events today. It includes further information about Lepman and her work as well as historical photos. This story of the children who survived the war offers a unique and often unexplored perspective for history lessons. It also makes an excellent choice for character education lessons on resilience. A portion of the author’s royalties will be donated to IBBY’s Children in Crisis Fund.
Families are unique and have different expectations for the books they choose to read. The following is a list of concepts included in this book that some parents may wish to seek out or avoid.
Note that this list is not exhaustive and there may be concepts in this book that are not included or have been insufficiently or incorrectly detailed here.
To the late Jella Lepman, whose work has enriched the lives of children around the world for generations
To my father, who gave me the best gift of my first books and went on to feed me classics and historical novels, whether I wanted them or not