Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy That Dropped from the Sky

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy That Dropped from the Sky

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by Margot Theis Raven, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
     
 

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The true story of a young German girl, Mercedes Simon, and of the American pilot, Gail Halvorsen, who shared hope and joy with the children of West Berlin by dropping candy-filled parachutes during the Airlift.

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Overview

The true story of a young German girl, Mercedes Simon, and of the American pilot, Gail Halvorsen, who shared hope and joy with the children of West Berlin by dropping candy-filled parachutes during the Airlift.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Van Frankenbuyzen's (L Is for Lincoln) opening spread of a bombed-out West Berlin speaks volumes about the necessity of the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift, the setting for this somewhat overwritten tale. During this time, the British and American forces flew food and basic supplies into the city after the Russian blockade cut off all access to it. After a historical note, Raven (Angels in the Dust) introduces Mercedes, a likable young West Berliner who tends the white chickens in her yard. One morning, her mother reads her a newspaper article about an American pilot, Lt. Gail Halvorsen, who, when delivering supplies to the city, "rained down sweets" on children waiting by the runway ("They carried flour and clothing and coal too. And something else!" reads the narrative). At the airfield, an older, taller boy snags the chocolate bar headed her way, and Mercedes sends Halvorsen a letter ("When you fly over the garden and see the white chickens, please drop some candy there and all will be ok"). He then mails her a package of treats ("The memory of this day would stay with her for the rest of her life"). Unfortunately, the epilogue is more compelling than the narrative: readers learn that Mercedes met Halvorsen in 1972, and the two remain friends. The close-up portraits may be static, but the artist's lifelike depictions of the devastated city are chilling; bullet and shrapnel holes mar even the girl's garden walls. Despite the cumbersome text, a sketch of an uncommonly giving man and a rare friendship emerges. Ages 5-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This outstanding picture book depicts one of the lesser-known aspects of the Berlin Airlift following World War II as seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl. Operation Little Vittles was run by Lt. Gail Halvorsen who, out of the goodness of his heart, began dropping candy in parachutes made from handkerchiefs to the children of West Berlin. This heartwarming story provides not only the historical context, but an epilogue as well. Although the text is slightly wordy at times, it shows, in part, how the Cold War impacted children, and how one child struggled to find hope amid the ruins of postwar Germany. It is also a tribute to the thousands of people involved in the effort. With views of devastated buildings and shrapnel holes in concrete, the full-color paintings elicit a real sense of the war's devastation.-Robyn Ryan Vandenbroek, Elgin Court Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by actual events, Raven (Angels in the Dust, 1996) recounts the story of a little girl in war-ravaged Germany and the American pilot who helped preserve her faith in human goodness. Frankenhuyzen's (Adopted by an Owl, not reviewed, etc.) opening portrait reveals the devastation in postwar Berlin. On the next spread, Mercedes scolds her uncooperative chickens ("Tomorrow I want an egg from each of you"). With the constant drone of airplanes up above, Mercedes is sure they're too scared to do what comes naturally; she, on the other hand, loves the planes-they deliver food and clothing to a city strangled by Stalin and the Russian blockade. Back inside her apartment-the exterior of which is punched with holes-Mercedes's mother shares with her a newspaper article about "The Wonderful American Chocolate Pilot, Lt. Gail Halvorsen" and the "candy-filled parachutes" he provides for the local children. When Mercedes fails to catch a chocolate bar of her own, she writes the pilot and asks him to make a special delivery ("When you . . . see the white chickens, please drop some candy there and all will be ok"). Instead, he sends her sweets in the mail-and a letter. An author's note fills in the historical facts; an epilogue tells of the reunion that took place between Mercedes and Mr. Halvorsen 22 years later and their enduring friendship. Lengthy front and back matter nearly outshines the narrative. Still, Raven's uplifting account imparts a positive humanitarian message. (Picture book. 5-10)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585360697
Publisher:
Sleeping Bear Press
Publication date:
04/01/2002
Series:
Sleeping Bear -- True Stories
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
276,188
Product dimensions:
9.72(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.41(d)
Lexile:
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

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