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Golden Oak entry

Posted by B.L. Foster, 22 April 2016 · 2,772 views

Forest of Reading
At a first look, this book appears to be unsuitable as a Golden Oak entry. It is published in the size and illustrated format of a juvenile picture book. This is not however the case.
A year Of Borrowed Men by Michele Barker is a retelling of an actual event which took place during her mother's childhood.

The story of three French prisoners sent to live with a German family, and to provide free labour to them reveals an unexpected perspective from both that of the German family, and the French men who became prisoners of war.

Both were subject to the rules of the State. They were required to do whatever was demanded of them or face a harsh imprisonment or even death. The strict discipline enforced upon them became a catalyst for the formation of friendship. This bonding was an act of gentle defiance, and in opposition to the imposed ruling state of dictatorship.

The friendship which began with the youngest child, Gerda, towards the three French prisoners, and which later overcame, even the conditions of fear, was reciprocated by other members of her family. For Gerda, these were lasting memories.

The truth revealed in this book raises a personal awareness of other prisoners of war, in similar circumstances, who were also treated kindly by other German families.

Gerda never forgot the names of the three men, nor the individual characteristics which made each special to her.

Narrated in simple language, and illustrated with pastel watercolour images, Michelle's sharing of Gerda's story invites discussion from several points of view.

June 2019

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