CYBILS JUNIOR HIGH NONFICTION REVIEW: D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History by Deborah Hopkinson


The WWII invasion known as D-Day was the largest military endeavor in history. By June 6, 1944, Hitler and his allies had a strong grip on the European continent, where Nazi Germany was engaged in the mass extermination of the Jewish people. The goal of D-Day was the total defeat of Hitler's regime, and the defense of free democracies everywhere. Knowing they had to breach the French coast, the US, Great Britain, and Canada planned for the impossible.

D-Day was an invasion not for conquest, but liberation, and required years to plan and total secrecy to keep the advantage of surprise. Once deployed, Operation Overlord involved soldiers, sailors, paratroopers, and specialists. Acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson weaves together the contributions of not only D-Day's famous players, but African Americans, women, journalists, and service members in a masterful tapestry of official documents, personal narratives, and archival photos to bring this decisive battle to vivid, thrilling life.


There are many books available about the D-Day Invasion of World War II.  But because so many people were involved, there are endless ways for the story to be told.  In addition, for the same reason, authors have to pick and choose what information to share, there is simply too much to share in any one book.  Plus, no two authors tell the story in the same way.  Thus, there is a place for Hopkinson's book on the subject.  And she's done a fabulous job in sharing the information in a way that works for adolescent readers.

The book starts with the experience of a young man flying over France as one of the thousands of paratroopers proceeding the sea-based invasion.  This makes for a great beginning as it pulls the reader right into the story.  Following a brief description of what D-Day was and how the U.S. Army was organized (helpful for those with little military or World War II background), Hopkinson goes back and tells the story of the major events that led up to the invasion itself.  The book is divided up into 7 parts as follows: The Plan, The Gods of War, Night Into Day, Utah, Omaha, Aftermath: More than Courage, Quartermaster's Department.  Each section includes important information related to the general plans and some of the individuals involved in creating those plans.  As this book is written for American youth, it focuses on the two invasion sites that the Americans helped invade, the beaches code named Utah and Omaha.  I especially appreciated the widespread use of quotes and experiences from individuals who were there.  The story feels more real when one reads the words of an actual person.  The inclusion of 'dispatches' and 'Reader's Invasion Briefings' helped create context in relation to specific issues that came up during the invasion.

All in all Hopkinson has created a compelling account of a day that changed the world forever.  A day that young history buffs will want to know about.  This is a book that would be easy to recommend to young readers who want a glimpse into the experiences of those involved in both the planning and executing of D-Day.


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