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The Winged Watchman

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,143 ratings  ·  138 reviews
This acclaimed story of World War II is rich in suspense, characterization, plot and spiritual truth. Every element of occupied Holland is united in a story of courage and hope: a hidden Jewish child, an "underdiver," a downed RAF pilot, an imaginative, daring underground hero, and the small things of family life which surprisingly carry on in the midst of oppression. The ...more
Paperback, 191 pages
Published May 2nd 2005 by Bethlehem Books (first published 1962)
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Darla Barrows I have a study guide that recommended it for grades 6-9. We used it for Grade 7 last year and my son was on the edge of his seat for the entire book. …moreI have a study guide that recommended it for grades 6-9. We used it for Grade 7 last year and my son was on the edge of his seat for the entire book. For us, it was a beautiful and encouraging introduction to WWII studies. It was selected by Yale University as model book to teach kids about WWII without filling them with despair. I have told friends that it is my favourite book since Charlotte's Web. (Which I also think it a great book for all ages.) Here is a link to the study guide that recommends it for Grade 6 - 9.

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The Winged Watchman is a fast-paced, exciting, children's book about how World War 2 was in Holland. Many exciting adventures happen to two young brothers in this trilling book for kids. ...more
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone!
2016: I read this aloud to Grades 5 & 6. They liked the story a lot, but since we only had an hour to read it per week, the story was too spread out and they would forget what was going on. This isn't the fault of the book, but because of this I don't think the ending had quite as much of an impact. I still like the book, but this time around I noticed more about lying, etc., that is tricky to explain to kids. I'm not sure van Stockum's assessment of this very tricky moral issue is correct; rega ...more
Luisa Knight
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was great! I was so impressed with the writing, how engaging the story was, the characters, and how the author wasn't afraid to insert some hard, theological issues that faced the people of that time. It added wonderful depth; and the issues are so universal, that it would make for great family discussions.

Joris is ten years old and lives with his family in a windmill that his father maintains. The year is 1944 and times are becoming more difficult. It seems like the Nazis have always occup
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another example of a children's book that I can't believe I never read sooner. An amazing, touching story about a Dutch family in World War II, dealing with the terrible hardships but also finding so much joy and opportunities for bravery and kindness. A very emotional read. I especially appreciated this book as a vehicle for important discussions with my kids about civil disobedience, truth, hardship, and faith. ...more
5+ stars & 6/10 hearts. Okay, so this was actually really good. It wasn't what I expected, but it was good. <33 First off, it's set in Holland. <33 AND it's WWII fiction. But this isn't set in the city of Holland. It's set in the country. I've read a lot about Holland in WWII, but most such books were set in the city, so this was really interesting and a different POV. It's written for a more juvenile audience and yet it touches on some pretty deep themes--forgiveness, hate, love, & war--and dea ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My favorite childhood book, read numerous times in grade school. This was the first book I read related to the war and I was hooked.
Review hopefully to come!!! 😉
Katie Fitzgerald
In Nazi-occupied Holland, Joris Verhagen and his family live in a windmill. Though they seem like an ordinary family, the Verhagens' windmill is the site of many acts of resistance toward the Nazi regime, including their adoption of a Jewish baby as their own and the harboring of an English airman right under the nose of their teenage neighbor who works for the Nazis. As this family lives daily life in the months prior to Holland's liberation, the reader gains insight into the differences made b ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes touching ww2 adventures
Recommended to Alicia by: deborah fishburn
I read this to my children while living in Germany (7 years ago)and I just reread it to 11-year-old Josh (who didn't remember it). This is one of my favorite children's WW2 books ever (along with Snow Treasure). I love how this book helps us "experience" the last year of the war through the eyes of a 10-year-old Dutch boy: the hunger, the traitorous landwatchers, the resistance fighters, and the ordinary people who risk their lives to help others. My children don't enjoy my sobbing as I read the ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
A historical fiction that takes place among the windmills of Holland during World War II. It was moving but heartwarming. It was written for children, so it was light on the horrors of war, but still very realistic. How do you avoid bitterness amidst overwhelming evil? Wonderful view of family life in another culture and another time.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction for kids...a charming, realistic book about World War II in the Netherlands. The story is about a Dutch family's involvement with the Dutch Resistence. Van Stockum's captivating and descriptive writing encases you in the culture, emotion and landscape. ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens, drama
I read this book when I was a young girl, and it was one of my favorites. I am giving it 5 stars from my young girls viewpoint. I am going to re read this one, and see what it is that made such an impact on me.
Brigid Oakley
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thw Winged Watchman by Hildavan Stockum is an excellent book!
A family living in a windmill survives the war, gradually adding people hiding from the Nazis.
Perfect for children , helping them to live out the experience of being invaded that so many countries suffered in wartime.
John Tepper Marlin
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book more than once because I would like to see it become a comic book or movie or made-for-TV movie. This is viewed by many as Hilda van Stockum's best book, dealing with the difficult topic of evil in the Third Reich in a way that reaches children without creating trauma. Two miller's sons in occupied Holland discover that a schoolmate has become a traitor, so they decide to intensify their support of the Resistance and outwit him. There is a downed RAF pilot that they rescue, ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a touching story told from a child's viewpoint during the German occupation of Holland in World War II. I read this aloud to my children (ages 13, 11, and 9). We were drawn into the story as if we were part of their family. We felt fearful and then courageous, apprehensive and then compassionate, shocked and then tearful, hungry and then grateful. This story teaches timeless values like compassion, bravery and patriotism through the courageous examples of mother, father, uncle and neighb ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sonlight-core-e
A story of a windmillers family in German-occupied Holland during World War II. This book really helps you experience a lot of the pain and suffering, betrayal, attempts at resistance, and survival for a normal family during that time.

I also enjoyed the moral dilemas faced by the Christian (Catholic) characters and how the dialogs addressed these - loving/hating your enemy, telling the truth vs a lie when the truth would get someone killed, harboring fugitives. This will be great reading and di
Michael Fitzgerald
An exceptionally well-written children's book that tells an engaging story of how one family dealt with the German occupation of Holland in WWII. Amazingly, it also introduces some of the most vital questions of philosophy (is lying always wrong? why does God permit evil? etc.) and provides the Catholic perspective on these, in an easy-to-understand way. These discussions are always well integrated into the story. We learn much about Dutch life at the time, and the details were inspired by lette ...more
Rebekah Morris
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story captured my interested at the beginning and held it to the end. I really enjoyed reading about like in Holland during WWII. Though life was hard, and the people suffered so much, this story shows just how strong and determined the people were to endure. The only thing I didn't care for were the times the Roman Catholic faith was put forth, the talk of praying to saints or going to confession. But these were few and could be skipped over if the story was read aloud. ...more
Lucia M.
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a great children's book about the people of Holland during World War II, and one family in particular. It was especially interesting to me since my father-in-law came to the U.S. from Holland as a young boy, shortly after the time period in which this book took place. I learned much about the people and their way of life as well as enjoying some great historical fiction! ...more
May 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this with my 11 year old son and we really enjoyed it. I had never thought about Holland during WWII and so it was very educational as well as inspiring. I hope I would be as generous and brave during such difficult times.
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shows great examples of courage and sacrifice and ingenuity. A wonderful way for children to learn about this virtues. A living book that takes one into the heart of WWII Holland, viewed through the eyes of a child.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: with-kids
Highly recommend this one! We are studying WWII and it has been a great look into the war from the eyes of a Dutch family in German occupied Holland. When my boys ask to keep a "school book", I know it is especially good! ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful historical fiction told threw the eyes of a child. When learning about WWII, we often don't hear about countries, like Holland, who suffered brutally under the German occupation. ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Hail Mary..."Mary. Mary, quite contrary..." Cutest line in this wonderful book! ...more
Jenn of The Bookish Society
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I read aloud in 2001, when we started homeschooling. Last night my 5th child and I finished reading it. It is still awesome
Alex  Baugh
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
Books about the Netherlands during World War II are generally about the Dutch Resistance, but Hilda van Stockum has focused more on the daily experiences of one very close knit, religious family living, but without ignoring Resistance activities.

At ten years old, Joris Verhagen can barely remember what life was like before the Nazis invaded Holland in 1940 when he was 4. Life is hard for the Verhagen family - father, a 4th generation millwright, mother, Dirk-Jan, 14, Joris and Trixie, 4, but be
Wayne Walker
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Set during late World War II in the Netherlands, this acclaimed story, based on the experiences of the author's relatives in Holland, is about ten year old Joris Verhagen, who lives with his father, the windmill master responsible for keeping the Rynsater polder dry, mother, fourteen year old brother Dirk Jan, and three year old “sister” Trixie who was actually the newborn child of their Jewish neighbors the Groens but was secretly given to the Verhagens when the Groens were taken away three yea ...more
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is actually more like four and a half stars.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys children's literature. Set during the Nazi occupation of Holland, it's serious but uplifting. Hilda Van Stockum seems to know exactly the right amount of explanation to give, laying the foundation for important ideas but leaving room for kids to do some of the thinking themselves.

My only complaint is that the character Trixie felt a bit false to me. It surprised me because all of the other childr
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I reread annually. It is a young adult book so a quick and easy read. It is set during WW2 Holland. It is told from the view of a 10 year old boy. I am not sure where I acquired this book but it is an old library book. My copy is the 1962 publication and I like the cover better than the newer versions. Odd how a different cover can be a turn off. I want to live in a windmill.
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Born February 9, 1908, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Hilda van Stockum was a noted author, illustrator and painter, whose work has won the Newbery Honor and the National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood Award. She was also a charter member of the Children's Book Guild and the only person to have served as its president for two consecutive terms.

Van Stockum was raised partly in Ireland, a

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