The Blurb On The Back:
Brave soldiers, important battles, life on the Home Front! It’s time to learn everything about World War II.
Packed with facts, pictures and maps it’s ideal for homework, topic work, KS2 school projects and anyone who is simply curious about history.
EVERYTHING WORLD WAR II was released in the United Kingdom on 22nd July 2021. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
You can order Everything World War II: Facts And Photos From The Front Line To The Home Front by National Geographic Kids from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK. I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
This book by National Geographic Kids is aimed at children aged 8+ is a UK-centric breezy overview of World War II from Appeasement to the dropping of the A-bombs. There are plenty of pictures and it’s written in a way that’s easy to understand, but I was surprised there’s no mention of the Bletchley Park code breakers or the black market that surrounded rationing and it conflates sonar and radar, when they’re subtly different.
I picked this up because I’m interested in history and how it’s presented to children and National Geographic has a good reputation for factual books. This is a pretty comprehensive book, which takes a fairly linear approach to the key events of the war (aided by a handy time line in each chapter that shows when different events were taking place). It is UK-centric so there are chapters dedicated to the UK home front, including the early evacuations, the Blitz and efforts to keep the Home Front running (including bringing in women and the impact on merchant shipping). However it also takes on the Eastern Front and war in the Pacific and in Africa and has a chapter on the Holocaust and the impact on Jewish people (although if I’m being picky, I think more could have been made of the other victims of the Holocaust than what’s on the page – which is not to diminish at all the impact on Jews but the fact that Roma, communists, homosexuals and disabled people were caught up in it should have been expanded on).
Each chapter is a short 2 pages and includes plenty of pictures to illustrate the events. There’s also a handy little quiz at the end so that readers can check how much they’ve absorbed from the book.
Whilst acknowledging that a book of this type cannot go into every single detail of the war, there were a number of omissions that I found surprising. Most notably is the failure to include even a short box on the Bletchley Park code breakers, which is remarkable given that there are a number of instances in the book where it mentions how important code breaking was to Allied efforts. I also think that the sections on rationing should have mentioned that there was a black market, if only because it otherwise risks painting a picture for children of everyone doing what they were told when that was blatantly not the case. Finally, there is a minor error in the book in that when talking about the impact of radar and sonar, the text suggests that they’re basically the same thing when they actually use different waves (albeit the same principles apply).
Criticisms aside, however, this is a good way of introducing the topic of World War II to younger children and gives them a good overview of the key events and discussion points. If you have a youngster learning about this in school or who has expressed an interest in the subject, then I think it’s worth their time to get a copy.