Boxes for Katje

by Candace Fleming and Stacey Dressen-McQueen

Although World War II had ended, the winter of 1945 saw scores of Europeans desperately... read more

Although World War II had ended, the winter of 1945 saw scores of Europeans desperately lacking the basic necessities of adequate food and clothing. Many American families and organizations responded to their need with care packages shipped across the Atlantic. This fictionalized account of an actual event embroiders on the story of a box sent by the author’s mother to a Dutch family. One early spring day, Katje is thrilled by the unexpected arrival of a box from America containing a bar of soap, a pair of wool socks, and—the ultimate luxury—a bar of chocolate. Katje savors a piece of the chocolate, and generously shares the rest with her mother and the postman who delivered the package. She finds a letter enclosed, from Rosie Johnson of Mayfield, Indiana, who writes: “Dear Dutch Friend, I hope these gifts brighten your day.” In her reply, Katje thanks Rosie for the gifts, especially the chocolate, and tells of how her mother and Postman Kleinhoonte enjoyed it too. That letter inspires Rosie, her family, and her friends to send a series of packages in the ensuing months, each of which Katje shares with members of her community. Finally, on a warm spring day, Katje and her friends fill a box to send to America. When Rosie opens her package from Holland, the note reads: “We hope these tulip bulbs ... will brighten Mayfield’s days.” This hopeful story of community effort and international friendship with a focus firmly grounded in a child’s perspective is complemented by appealing illustrations showing the events from Katje and Rosie’s alternating vantage points. (Ages 6–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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