One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II Hardcover – Jun 5 2007
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Judge bases this quiet, moving story of kindness and healing on her own family's history. After World War II, her grandparents organized a relief effort from their Midwest farm and sent care packages to more than 3,000 desperate people in Europe. In each spread, a young girl describes how she helps Mama with the packages. The stirring art in Judge's first picture book includes not only beautiful, full-page watercolor paintings of a family making a difference but also dramatic collages of black-and-white photos, newspaper cuttings, letters that Judge found in her grandparents' attic, and the foot tracings sent by Europeans desperate for shoes. There is no talk of the enemy. Judge focuses on the dramatic, realistic details of those in need ("We have only one pair of boots and must take turns") and the strength of those who fought "a battle to keep families alive" after the military battles were over. Rochman, Hazel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Lita Judge lives in Peterborough, NH with her husband and cat. She grew up with grandparents who were well known ornithologists and who were responsible for starting "The Action", the movement described in this book where ordinary Americans sent food, clothing, and scientific materials to Europeans who had survived WWII.
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One Thousand Tracings is the story of this effort told from the perspective of young girl (Lita Judge's mother). The story begins in December 1946, "When I was three, Papa left home to join the war. When I was six, the war was over, and Papa came back to me and Mama. I thought everyone we loved was home and safe. But just before Christmas, a letter arrived that changed everything."
That letter was from their friends in Germany who said they were starving and had no shoes. They put together a care package for the family, and weeks later received a thank you letter from the family along with a list of ten families who needed help. There were foot tracings for each family member in the letter. Over the next two years, the Hamerstrom's received over a thousand foot tracings, and enlisting the help of friends and neighbors, over 3,000 care packages including shoes matching the foot tracings and other supplies were sent to families all over Europe.
In addition to telling us the story of the relief effort, Lita Judge draws us in by telling, through letters sent to the Hamerstrom's, the story of one family with a little girl named Eliza who is the same age as the narrator. Her father is still missing, and she, her mother, and brother are in need. The reader is filled with anticipation to find out what happens to this family and the father.
The most poignant part of the story is the fact that Americans put their differences with Germany aside and helped PEOPLE. They were no longer fighting the enemy, but helping mothers, fathers, children who didn't even have shoes to keep their feet warm in the bitter cold. But perhaps the most engaging part of the book are pictures of the actual foot-tracings, yellowed letters, and photos sent with the letters scattered throughout the pages of the book and on the end papers. Mixed in with Judge's soft watercolor illustrations, we can SEE what Lita Judge found in the attic. We see a picture of the real Eliza, a pair of warn boots that would be a godsend to a poverty-stricken family, a doll like the one Judge's mother made for Eliza, and more.
One Thousand Tracings is beautifully written and tells the heartwarming story of human compassion. Sure to spark a lot of conversation, no child's library should be without it.
This book is absolutely wondrous. Based on actual letters, and the memories of her mother, the author uses her mother's voice as the narrator to relate in spare, haunting text how her parents, the Hamerstroms, had received a poignant letter from a German friend whose family faced a scarcity of goods especially shoes after WWII ended. In response, they sent a care package; a very grateful Dr. Krammer thanked his friends profusely, but also requested that they help some other families. Soon a slew of letters, sent by these other families, arrived with tracings of feet so recipients could receive shoes that fit them; there is a picture of the author's grandmother reading a letter and looking stunned with a hand placed over her mouth. The inside front and back covers display reproductions of letters and lists documenting items sent. "Mama and I found clearance sales, gathered unclaimed shoes at repair shops, and collected them from neighbors." They "cleaned" shoes and "put in new lacing" "Our neighbor, Mrs. Greenberg, canned and sold beans from her garden to earn postage for the packages she sent." This outpouring of generosity and compassion blossomed and eventually many thousands of Americans even those who did not have much themselves gave what they could. Some children gave up wearing shoes for the summer and donated them knowing that they would need to wait until fall to get new ones. Atmospheric and touching illustrations mirror the text. In one muted double spread, the young narrator sits in a room amidst tracings and shoes that she is working to match. This inspiring story is totally accessible to children even as it also affects adults and a copy should be available in every library. The author has a web site where she offers more details about this heartwarming project including information about the people involved and reproductions of letters; she also provides a discussion guide and suggests some activities for teachers to use with their students.
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