Kendal Rautzhan picks out "Winter's Gift" and "Surviving the Hindenburg"

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“Winter’s Gift” written and illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan, Sleeping Bear Press, 32 pages.

Read aloud: age 4 – 5 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8 and older.

An old man lived on a small farm in the woods. It was Dec. 24, and a blizzard had covered everything in white. Christmas Eve had always been a wonderful time for the man and his wife. Each year they would decorate their tree and place the star, the symbol of hope, on the top.

This year was different, for the man’s wife had died months ago, and he no longer had hope. As he prepared his dinner, he heard a sound outside and went to investigate, finding a mare lying in the snow. He gently helped her to her feet and led her to his barn where he warmed her and gave her food and drink. Exhausted, he laid down on the hay and fell asleep. When he woke on Christmas morning, he found a very special gift, and for the first time in a long while, he found himself looking forward to the next day.

An outstanding book in both story and illustration, this selection resounds with compassion and joy.


“Surviving the Hindenburg” by Larry Verstraete, illustrated by David Geister, Sleeping Bear Press, 2012, 36 pages, $16.95 hardcover.

Read aloud: age 6 and older.

Read yourself: age 8 and older.

Werner Franz was the 14-year-old cabin boy aboard the giant German airship Hindenburg on May 6, 1937. The ship had crossed the Atlantic and was scheduled to land at Lakehurst Naval Base in New Jersey, but as it was making its final approach, disaster struck as the Hindenburg burst into flames. Miraculously, Werner Franz survived.

Exceptionally well-written and beautifully illustrated, this true story is at once fascinating, informative and riveting.

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