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Great World War II Projects You Can Build Yourself

By Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt
Nomad Press

2456 Christian St.
White River Junction, VT 05001

There are lots of history activity books out there, but many of them are for very young children or are merely artsy-craftsy books without much connection to the actual historical events. Great World War II Projects You Can Build Yourself is different. This 118-page paperback book has text highlighting the main people and events in World War II, and it includes 21 projects. It is written to the child, as the title implies, with an introduction and project directions written in the second person. The chapter pages contain photos, illustrations, and sidebars to break up the text.

The book starts with a photo directory of the key players in the war, a timeline, maps of Europe and the South Pacific, and an introduction. The chapters are divided into two parts: "On the Home Front" and "On the Front Lines." The end of the book has a glossary, a list of resources, and an index. This book would best be used to supplement a more thorough text or study of the war. To get the most from the activities, a student should first read the short chapter that goes along with the activity to get more background and to understand the significance of the project. Great World War II Projects is designed for ages nine and up. I think it would be suitable for children in upper elementary through middle school.

I like that the book is written to the student. Having directions that state why you should be careful about a particular step or why you need certain equipment is a real plus. The text is balanced in presenting the pros and cons of many choices made during World War II, such as placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps and bombing Pearl Harbor. The author's enthusiasm for the subject really comes through, and you get a feel for what it would have been like during the war. There are a variety of projects that would appeal to both boys and girls. If your kids are like mine, the spy and secret message activities will be a big hit.

I do wish more emphasis had been given to the bibliography. I also wish it had been annotated. This book is likely to spark more interest in the war, and an expanded bibliography would provide other books or websites for the child to investigate. Great World War II Projects can increase your child's knowledge of and interest in the war, and if you are looking for some hands-on projects this is a great source.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2006

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