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  • Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World
  • Elizabeth Bush
Wood, Douglas. Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World; illus. by Barry Moser. Candlewick, 2011. [40p]. ISBN 978-0-7636-3383-7 $15.99 Reviewed from galleys M Gr. 3–6.

Immediately after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was scrambling to put its alliances in order, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill crossed the Atlantic to spend the Christmas holiday in negotiation with his counterpart, President Franklin Roosevelt. The personal rapport that would be established between the men would further cement the bond between their countries. Wood’s account of the visit is long on Allied fervor and purple rhetoric (“Even now, in this storm-tossed crossing, the prowling of Nazi submarines seemed more dangerous than the fury of the ocean”) but decidedly short on background and facts about the content of the meetings. Readers receive a page of biographical detail on each leader and plenty of human interest tidbits on dinners, church services, and, notably, Churchill’s getting caught au naturel exiting his bath. The truly world-changing activities suggested in the subtitle are, however, glossed over in a few underinformative generalizations: “The days and nights were packed with important meetings and difficult negotiations”; “Generals, cabinet secretaries, and chiefs of staff met around the clock”; “The two leaders keenly felt that the future of their countries and the world depended upon their decisions and their ability to work together.” Although Moser’s watercolors, based on period photographs, capture iconic moments likely to imprint on readers’ memories the gravity of the meeting, they do not provide enough visual information to meaningfully supplement Wood’s thin narrative. Readers who are sensitive to the irony of war in the Christian season of peace will be vastly better served by Jim Murphy’s World War I title, Truce (BCCB 12/09).



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