Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.  A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and The Candy that Dropped from the Sky by Margot Theis Raven
Illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen

This is a true story about a American pilot named Col. Gail S. Halvorson USAF and a little German girl named Mercedes Wild.

World War II has ended and the four allies, Russia, Great Britain, France and the United States all controlled parts of Berlin.  Russia controlled East Berlin, while the three remaining countries controlled the three sectors of West Berlin.  On June 24th, 1948 Stalin tried to take over control of all of Berlin, thereby creating a blockade of West Berlin by cutting off all routes to the city.  The Allies did not want to start World War three and so they created a sky bridge and  flew supplies day and night into West Berlin, known as The Berlin Airlift.

Mercedes is seven years old and lives in a bombed out section of West Berlin.  Airplanes continuously roared overhead and her chickens were so scared they wouldn't lay the eggs her family desperately needed.  The planes rained down supplies, like flour, clothing, coal and candy.  One day, Mercedes mother read a story in the newspaper of the American pilot, Lt. Gail Halvorson who parachuted candy to the children of Berlin. He earned the nickname The Chocolate Pilot and people from all over America donated handkerchiefs for parachutes and candy for the children of Berlin.  Mercedes decides to write him a letter.

Lt. Halvorson and the people of America who donated supplies to the Berlin Airlift brought hope to the people of Berlin.  Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot is a beautiful work of art and a testament to the kindness and civility of people after World War II.  President Truman said on that fateful day on June 24th, 1948 "There is no discussion.  We stay in Berlin.  Period." The Berlin Airlift lasted from June 26, 1948 to September 30, 1949. 

I never knew this piece of history until I read this story and I am so glad I did.  Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot was very moving and inspirational.  It is a true story about the kindness of others that we all hope will be extended to us in our time of need.  You need to buy some candy, read this book together with your family and enjoy this sweet and delicious story.  Children's books are not just for kids.

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