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

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Overview

A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy that Dropped from the Sky. Life was grim in 1948 West Berlin, Germany. Josef Stalin blockaded all ground routes coming in and out of Berlin to cut off West Berliners from all food and essential supplies. Without outside help, over 2.2 million people would die. Thus began the Berlin Airlift, a humanitarian rescue mission that utilized British and American airplanes and pilots to fly in needed supplies. As one of the American pilots participating in the Airlift ...
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Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy That Dropped from the Sky

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Overview

A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy that Dropped from the Sky. Life was grim in 1948 West Berlin, Germany. Josef Stalin blockaded all ground routes coming in and out of Berlin to cut off West Berliners from all food and essential supplies. Without outside help, over 2.2 million people would die. Thus began the Berlin Airlift, a humanitarian rescue mission that utilized British and American airplanes and pilots to fly in needed supplies. As one of the American pilots participating in the Airlift mission, Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen helped to provide not only nourishment to the children but also gave them a reason to hope for a better world. From one thoughtful, generous act came a lifelong relationship between Lt. Gail and the children of Berlin. This is the true story of a seven-year-old girl named Mercedes who lived in West Berlin during the Airlift and of the American who came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot. Artist Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen's evocative paintings illuminate Margot Theis Raven's powerful story of hope, friendship and remembrance. About the Author: Margot Theis Raven has been a professional writer working in the fields of radio, television, magazines, newspapers, and children's books for thirty years. She has won five national awards, including an IRA Teacher's Choice award. Ms. Raven earned her degree in English from Rosemont College and attended Villanova University for theater study, and Kent State University for German language. Ms. Raven splits her time living in Concord, MA, Charleston, SC and West Chesterfield, NH. About the Illustrator: Born in the Netherlands, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in Holland. He immigrated to the United States in 1976, and years later he became a children's book illustrator. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot is Nick's ninth children's book with Sleeping Bear Press.

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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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: 4/1/2002
  • Series: Sleeping Bear -- True Stories
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 176,330
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.72 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2013

    Highly, Highly Recommend this read!

    My son had to read this book for "Battle of the Books" competition at his school. He read it and told me that I must read it too just to see my reaction! Yes!, mom cried like a baby! We have only had the book a few weeks and my entire family has read it at least 3-4x if not more! It is such a touching story & it also makes you feel good to know that our country is being served by such honorable & caring military personal. The book is one that I will keep for my grandchildren!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2004

    OUTSTANDING

    What a wonderful TRUE story about this slice of history!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2003

    The Chocolate Pilot: What a hero

    Mercedes and the Chocolate pilot is a wonderful book with great illustrations. What makes it so wonderful it that it's a true story. One pilots courage, kindness and compassion towards the children during WWII was something they never forgot as the story explains. I didn't know about this episode in American History and it made me proud of our military all over again. A Great Book!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2002

    BEST BOOK EVER

    mercedes and the choclate pilot is about a a girl that lived in berlin when it was blocket off.So ever day she went to her four chickens to see if there was any eggs. ever now and than there would be one small egg.the reason why was planes would come over the town to drop food,clothing,and soap.the chikens would get scared because they came ever three minutes and would not lay any eggs.one day one of the pilots gave gum to four children.he also promised to send down candy.he did not break his promise.then later the little girl's mother read about in the newspaper.the little girl also wanted some candy.later that month her mom took her to get some candy. she almost had some but a boy got it. so she rote to him and asked him to send some to her backyard.he was very nice and he did.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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