Remember World War II: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories allows readers to understand the war not as seen through the eyes of soldiers but through the eyes of children who survived the bombings, the blackouts, the hunger, the fear, and the loss of loved ones caused by the war. The author shares her own recollections of being able to see the faces of Japanese pilots as they headed for the naval base at Pearl Harbor to drop their deadly bombs on unsuspecting American ships and soldiers, then shares her feelings at having to leave her father behind as the rest of the family is evacuated to the U.S. mainland.
A few days later, in the Philippines, the family of a young British girl is forced to turn their house over to the invading Japanese Army and move to a detention center where breakfast is a watery mush made with coconut milk; lunch is slimy spinach; and dinner a thin black soup. But at least she has food and shelter.
Twelve-year-old Eiko Arai, of Tokyo, is not so fortunate. When the American B-29 bombers began around-the-clock bombing, fires circle the city destroying everything in their paths. She and her mother have to step over charred bodies to get to the train station, where she becomes separated from her mother. If it had not been for a stranger yanking her on board a moving train, she would have been left behind, alone.
Meanwhile in Germany, 14-year-old Hedi Wachenheimer goes to school one day only to be sent home with the words "dirty Jew" ringing in her ears. Worse yet, she finds her home locked and empty and learns that her father and uncle have been taken away by the Nazis. She eventually flees to England to live out the war never knowing the fate of her parents.Lilly Lebovitz escapes the gas chamber by pinching her cheeks to make herself look healthy. She spends the war in a slave labor camp, but at least she survives.
For Fred Losch, proud member of the Hitler Youth, the war ends in a ditch in Berlin, where as the prisoner of a Russian soldier, he finds himself wondering "all this effort-for nothing!" Although no fighting took place in the United States, there was a hate war between many Americans and Japanese Americans. On his 13th birthday, Allan Higa finds himself being shipped off to a detention center where he and his family live in a cramped barracks without any heat or electricity or plumbing until the end of the war.
Nicholson skillfully weaves these stories and more into her historical narrative of the war to create a history lesson that readers will not soon forget. Some 50 archival images, maps showing alliances and major battles, and a time line of key events in the European and Pacific theaters add to the book's "you are there" feel.