Pajama Press

The Horn Book Magazine reviews A Year of Borrowed Men

Posted on April 8th, 2016 by pajamapress

A Year of Borrowed Men | Michelle Barker & Renné Benoit | Pajama Press“The story is told in simple, conversational phrases that sound like someone sharing her memories, with the occasional French or German word included either with a translation or in context.
Highlighted incidents are child-centered, such as when Gerda visits the men on Christmas to show them her new doll (and accidentally melts the doll’s hands on the stove), or when Gerda invites the men in to her own kitchen on a particularly cold day and a neighbor reports the family to the authorities. Benoit’s watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations use a little pastel so that the pictures combine precise details such as the wrinkles in Gerda’s stockings at her knee with a softness and warmth that convey the tenderness of memory. She strikes a tone of gentle sweetness in her depictions of the people and farm animals that, like the text, is never sappy. Children will find many things to notice, and the book raises some interesting questions, such as the complicated idea of who is an ‘enemy.’”Susan Dove Lempke

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