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I am a sucker for the Scholastic book fair. I get a little jolt of excitement when I get that email from the PTA telling me the book fair is coming. I sign up for multiple volunteering shifts. I peruse the shelves with my kids nearly every day of the fair. When they ask for thirteen books each and a handful of total crap – pens, erasers, notepads, posters, I cannot help myself. I buy nearly all of it. Because it’s tax free and a portion of the sales goes back to the school! And because I’m a total book junkie. So when Landon handed me a stack of books, a Lamborghini poster and an assortment of junk that would be lost or broken in the next 10 minutes, I didn’t bat an eye. Enter Projekt 1065 and our first installment of Reading with Tweens!
Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz is a fast-paced thriller set in World War II Berlin. Michael O’Shaughnessy
is the thirteen year old son of the Irish Ambassador to Germany and his wife, who are spies for the Allies. As he grows they draw Michael into their world, permitting him to join Hitler Youth and assigning him tasks that nobody would suspect a mere boy to carry out. The stakes are raised immeasurably when Michael rescues a downed British pilot – a Jew – and the trio hides him in the embassy. Together, the family and their hidden cargo work to discover the plans for Projekt 1065.
As I mentioned earlier this week, Landon loves WWII fiction. My mom commented (hi, Mom!) that perhaps Landon’s love for the genre is being guided by a certain someone, my grandfather and her dad, who was a military history buff to the extreme. His heroes were WWII generals and that devotion led him to his career in the military. I’d like to think there’s a touch of my grandpa’s love of history in Landon. Another aspect to his interest is likely his Jewish heritage. It’s strangely compelling for a kid (heck, for adults too) to imagine what he would do in the face of such adversity.
Landon started reading Projekt 1065 over winter break. After starting at his new school, he was assigned a book report project that would be due at the beginning of February. He decided to finish Projekt 1065 one weekend so that he could write about it for his assignment. After he finished and raved about how good it was, I picked it up.
My review of Projekt 1065
I really liked this book. It has age appropriate content and readability for middle grades. There is violence and one shocking death – unsurprising given the setting, but it could be upsetting to sensitive kids. That said, the violence is realistic, not gratuitous. It’s appropriate to the story. I like the book for the themes involved – overcoming fear, standing up to bullies, setting a goal to strive for and achieve, loyalty, and a love of literature.
- My favorite part: Herr Professor Doctor Major Melcher’s fortitude.
- LOL moment: having babies for Hitler. I know that sounds odd, but trust me and see if you don’t laugh on page 183.
- Favorite quote: all of the Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotsman jokes. Classics.
Landon’s review of Projekt 1065
I really liked this book. I really did want my Mom to read it, and after a few tries I got her to. I think she liked it. I recommend this book to 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders, and I think that anyone could read it if they wanted to.
- My favorite part: Simon’s sacrifice.
- LOL: Making babies for Hitler. I know it’s the same thing as my Mom’s, but it’s seriously hilarious.
Landon was tasked with creating a book jacket, with an original illustration on the front, a summary that would make the reader want to read the book on the inside flap, an author profile on the inside back flap, and critic reviews on the back cover. The summary had to be accurate and enticing, but the author profile and critical reviews could either be factual, creative, or a mix of both. As a school project, this is pretty easy and straightforward.
The pros: it’s a book of the child’s choosing, it requires the student to summarize the story without giving up any spoilers, and it allows their creativity to shine through on the author bio and illustration.
The cons: there’s no critical thinking required, the reviews don’t add much to the understanding of the book, and frankly I could see a kid just throwing this assignment together at the last minute without even having read the book. Thankfully my 5th grader hasn’t gotten that devious yet.
Have you or your kiddo read Projekt 1065? What did you think? Is there another great WWII book or even another time period that is your or your tween’s favorite? Comment and let us know!
Buy it here: