Shooting at the Stars is the moving story of a young British soldier on the front lines during World War I who experiences an unforgettable Christmas Eve. In a letter home to his mother, he describes how, despite fierce fighting earlier from both sides, Allied and German soldiers ceased firing and came together on the battlefield to celebrate the holiday. They sang carols, exchanged gifts, and even lit Christmas trees. But as the holiday came to a close, they returned to their separate trenches to await orders for the war to begin again.
John Hendrix wonderfully brings this story to life, interweaving fact and fiction along with his detailed illustrations and hand-lettered text. His story celebrates the humanity and kindness that can persist even during the darkest periods of our history. Back matter includes a glossary, additional information about World War I and the Christmas Truce and its aftermath, and an archival photograph taken during the Truce.
Also available by John Hendrix: Miracle Man
Praise for Shooting at the Stars
"Few titles at this level convey the futility of World War I as well as this one does. A first choice."
--School Library Journal, starred review
"Timed with the centenary of World War I but a lesson for always, Hendrix's tale pulls young readers close and shows the human side of war."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Grades 2-4. During the trench warfare in northern France in WWI, enemies were often separated by less than 100 feet. On Christmas Eve in the bitter winter of 1914, a virtual miracle occurred. Enemies on both sides stopped fighting and began to sing “Silent Night” while brightly lit Christmas trees dotted the tops of the trenches. On Christmas Day, enemy soldiers walked into the open ground between the trenches and shook hands. They buried their dead, and then the soldiers took photos of each other and exchanged biscuits and buttons and belts from their uniforms as souvenirs. Although the text is fictionalized and written as a poignant letter from a soldier, the author’s note explains the incident is well documented from letters and interviews. Illustrations in graphite, fluid acrylic washes, and gouache capture well the unlikely events and bring humanity to individual soldiers’ faces. Vivid details of the trenches protected by barbed wire and the soldiers’ uniforms alternate with the desolate landscape of mud, snow, and battered tree stumps. Meanwhile, glowing stars and sunlit skies look on impersonally on the day “war took a holiday.”