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Read Around the World:
Children’s Books Set in Europe

by Iva-Marie Palmer

europe

The continent of Europe is a rich source of fascination for Americans. The books set in its countries often call up its many legends and heroes, and peek into the history that shaped European citizens and much of the world. Here are some of the most exciting books for children and tweens set in Europe.

  • Picture Books

  • Madeline

    by Ludwig Bemelmans

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    Is there a children’s book character more synonymous with Paris than Madeline? The smallest of author Ludwig Bemelmans’ famous “12 little girls in two straight lines,” Madeline is also the bravest of those girls. Her memorable adventures captured inside Bemelmans’s beautiful drawings of Paris will whisk young readers away.

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  • Patrick

    by Tomie dePaola

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    The story of one of Ireland’s most well-known legends, St. Patrick, recounts the events of his life. It delves into how he became known for driving the snakes from Ireland and how he grew associated with the shamrock. Legendary author-illustrator Tomie dePaola tackles the historical figure with gusto.

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  • A Walk in London

    by Salvatore Rubbino

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    Gorgeously drawn street scenes of London become the backdrop throughout this picture book in which a mother and daughter tour the busy city, from Trafalgar Square to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The oversized pages and an unfolding panorama of the Thames River make reading this book a mini vacation.

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  • Big Anthony

    by Tomie dePaola

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    Though Tomie dePaola is famous for his Italian folktales about Strega Nona, he returns to Italy with another beloved character in this charming story. Big Anthony is a sweet but sometimes dopey young man who bumbles through Italy and even accidentally straightens the Tower of Pisa.

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  • Rechenka's Eggs

    by Patricia Polacco

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    Ukrainian Easter eggs are known for their intricate designs and the symbols artists use to decorate them. In Old Moscow, Babushka is famous for her beautiful eggs and is preparing some for the Easter festival. When she takes in an injured goose, Rechenka, the bird accidentally topples Babushka’s egg basket. Babushka is devastated until the goose gives her the surprise of a lifetime.

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  • Middle Grade

  • Who Is Queen Elizabeth II?

    by Megan Stine and Who HQ, illustrated by Laurie A. Conley

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    The Royal Family fascinates Americans, and through this age-appropriate biography of Queen Elizabeth II, young readers will learn about the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch. Covering the Queen’s life before and after she took the throne, this beginner’s biography offers insight into the sense of duty and determination she brought to the role.

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  • A Place to Hang the Moon

    by Kate Albus

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    When three siblings lose their surly grandmother, they’re not overly distraught. But in World War II London, caretakers are few and far between. They join an evacuation from London to the countryside and hope to stay together. When they meet a kind librarian, they think they’ve found a savior. However, her missing German husband throws a wrench into their formation of a new family unit.

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  • The War That Saved My Life

    by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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    Ada’s twisted foot is a source of shame for her mother, who won’t let her out of the house. So, when she leaves London to escape World War II, it’s more liberating than scary. She and her brother come under the care of a woman named Susan, and Ada fears what will happen if they must return to their cruel mother.

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  • Hero on a Bicycle

    by Shirley Hughes

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    Two siblings fighting against the entire Nazi army makes for a gripping historical thriller. Though the Italian Resistance during World War II is a significant part of history, the novel focuses on the heroic actions of Paolo and Costanza as they work together against the Nazi occupation of Florence.

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  • Astrid the Unstoppable

    by Maria Parr, translated from Norwegian by Guy Puzey

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    This book, translated from Norwegian, introduces middle-graders to Astrid, a bold and speedy girl known in her village as “the little thunderbolt.” She loves sledding, singing, and spending time with her elderly best friend and godfather, Gunnar. But she learns he is keeping something from her that could threaten their close relationship.

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  • Genevieve's War

    by Patricia Reilly Giff

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    Award-winning author Patricia Reilly Giff brings to life the French Resistance during World War II. Genevieve moves from New York to Alsace, France, in 1939, not long before the Nazis conquer France. As they take over the small farming town, they demand people speak, act, and think German. When Genevieve’s friend Rémy resists, she conceals him in her attic to keep him safe.

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