Publishers WeeklySmooth and soulful, folksinger McCutcheon's picture-book adaptation of his 1984 song, inspired by true events of WWI, proves an uplifting holiday tale and an enduring anthem of peace. The story of German and Allied soldiers engaging in an impromptu Christmas truce on the battlefield is one not soon forgotten. Sirenson's (I Love You as Much...) elegant oil landscapes and portraits capture the drama and power of the proceedings. The attractive package comes with a CD containing a narration of the story as well as the title recording and a bilingual rendition of the carol "Silent Night/Still Nacht." Ages 6-10. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ann SangerInspired by an actual incident during World War I, folksinger, John McCutcheon wrote a song also entitled Christmas in the Trenches. With the help of Henri Sorenson, they have created a beautifully poignant depiction of war at Christmas. Deep, rich colors in Sorenson's painting give us a sense of "No Man's Land" in 1914. The story portrays Grandpa Francis with his two grandchildren sitting on his knees after the Christmas feast, recalling his most memorable Christmas when he was away from home during World War I. Voices could be heard during a lull in the gunfire. Across the barren wasteland Christmas carols were exchanged, first in German then in English. Then they heard a familiar tune, "Silent Night." "And suddenly in two tongues one song filled the night sky. I never imagined singing could be so...holy." During this unofficial ceasefire, a group of soldiers, no longer enemies, just sons and father away from home for the holidays, enjoy a time of caroling, sharing photos and small gifts, and a game of soccer. As the sun rose that next morning, they return to their own sides. Although this is a fictional narrative, eyewitness accounts found in diaries and letters confirm this Christmas miracle. An audio CD is included featuring four options of narration read by the author and songs both in German and English. An author note, historical note, along with the words and the music to his song make this book a treasure to share with generation to come.
School Library JournalGr 2-4-In 1914, British and German troops were dug into trenches in France, facing one another across the barbed wire and barren ground called No Man's Land. On Christmas Eve, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing "Stille Nacht" and joined in. Spontaneously, soldiers on both sides climbed out of their trenches and met in between the lines, sharing small gifts, food, and drink. They played a game of soccer. Then they went back to their trenches. The next day, the shooting resumed. McCutcheon's account of this true event is based on a song he wrote about it in 1984. An accompanying CD includes that song, "Silent Night/Stille Nacht," and a reading of the story. Sirenson's illustrations sanitize trench warfare somewhat. Michael Foreman's War Game (Pavillion, 2002) is a more sophisticated-and somewhat more cynical-presentation of this same Christmas truce.-Virginia Walter, University of California, Los Angeles Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsFolksinger McCutcheon has adapted his original song about the Christmas Truce of 1914 as the text for this touching story about WWI. The first spread shows an elderly grandfather named Francis with his grandson and granddaughter, recounting his favorite Christmas for them, when he was a young soldier in the Great War. On the next spread, the scene shifts to a montage of warfare scenes in sepia tones, like an old photograph. The narrator describes the bored soldiers in the trenches on that Christmas Eve, and their surprise as they heard German voices singing Christmas carols. The English soldiers joined in on "Silent Night," leading a German soldier to cross No Man's Land with a white flag and a Christmas tree. The two sides called a temporary, informal truce and spent that entire Christmas Eve in that truce. Sorensen's atmospheric oil paintings bring the miraculous night of peace to life with a wide, double-page spread that allows room to show many soldiers at once as well as the expanse of the battlefield. (author's note, historical note, music notation, CD) (Fiction. 7-18)
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Christmas in the Trenches based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I first heard John McCutcheon 'Christmas In The Trenches' when he performed at Wolf Trap many years ago. My grandfather and his brother both fought in the Great War for the British Army. I grew up hearing the tale about the Christmas Truce and I have to admit the song brought a tear to my eye. The book is written well and follows the song verses. The illustrations are terrifice and convey the dismal conditions of trench warfare without the gore. I enjoyed the fact that the book also had a CD containing not only the original song but also the story read aloud. I was moved by the words of the song and think the book should be read by all as it reminds us that we are all someone's father/son/daughter and are made enemies by theose who rarely see the fight!