Monday, October 15, 2012

Candy Bombers

YA historical fiction adds an interesting new title to its ranks with Robert Elmer’s book Candy Bombers. The story is set in Berlin, Germany, 1948, just after the end of World War 2. (Those familiar with history know that this city was divided in two, with half of the territory controlled by the Soviets and the other by Americans.)

The reader views the harsh post-war conditions through the eyes of a young German teen named Eric. Eric holds no love for America; he believes his father was killed in a routine bombing attack by America. Not only that, but his city lies in ruins, citizens spy on each other, his grandmother is sick, and food is painfully scarce. It’s no wonder Eric is tempted to sneak onto an American airbase to steal some supplies.

Accompanied by his cousin Katarina, Eric sneaks onto a cargo plane searching for food. To his horror, the plane takes off with Eric and Katarina aboard. It isn’t long before airmen discover them.

Though he dislikes them, Eric is surprised when, instead of throwing him in jail, the Americans treat him with kindness. One American in particular takes interest in the duo’s unfortunate plight—a journalist named Fred DeWitt who wants to do a feature story on the children, photographs and all.

The rest of the story follows Eric as he deals with a number of issues: His conflicting emotions of gratitude and anger when it comes to America; his reaction to the interest Fred has in his mother (which is obviously reciprocated); the truth about his father’s death; Soviet spies trying to capture him; the beginning of the Iron Curtain; and the courage of an American flyer, who dropped gum and candy over war-torn Berlin.

Though the story is fiction, Robert Elmer weaves in accurate historical information. At the end, he provides facts about the actual Berlin Airlift—part of which included gum and candy drops for the people of Berlin. Candy Bombers is the first installment in Elmer’s The Wall Trilogy, historical fiction stories set in the Cold War era. Other books include Beetle Bunker and Smuggler's Treasure.

Special Info: Read CCBR reviews of other books by Robert Elmer. Check out another historical fiction series written by Robert Elmer called The Young Underground Series. Kindle books include: A Way Through the Sea, Beyond the River, Into the Flames, Far from the Storm, and more!

What I Like: Elmer did a good job of bringing to light bleak post-war conditions and the Berlin Airlift. He included some tension in the story with Soviets spying on Eric. The story moved at a good pace and was well written. I believe it would be an excellent resource for homeschoolers studying the Cold War, or students who have an interest in this era.

What I Dislike: Neither the prologue nor the—well, yet another prologue comes at the end of the story, so “prologue”—seemed necessary. I actually found them somewhat confusing. Plus, even though I enjoyed the story, there were a few spots where large chunks of time passed with little explanation.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 9 and up

Publisher Info: ZonderKidz, 2006; ISBN:978-0310709435; Paperback, 160 pgs., $6.99
Buy it Now at for $5.99
OR Buy it at for $6.99.

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Kathy Cassel said...

It sounds interesting. Maybe one to read aloud over Christmas vacation.

Lori Z. Scott said...

It will certainly appeal to history buffs! :)