Booklist

*Starred Review* Curious about the city into which he ferried goods during the Berlin Airlift in 1948, pilot Gail Halvorsen stayed over to visit, met some children, and offered to drop candy and gum when he next flew over. This simple idea grew into a massive project with reverberations today. Tunnell tells this appealing story of a cold war soldier who made a difference clearly and chronologically, weaving in just enough background for twenty-first-century readers and illustrating almost every page with black-and-white photographs, many from Halvorsen’s own collection. Opening the book with a shot of a nine-year-old boy looking for the plane that will wiggle its wings, the author captures young readers with the very idea of the chocolate pilot and keeps them with a steady focus on the German young people, including their letters and drawings. He concludes with a chapter describing Halvorsen’s successful military career, his meetings with children who caught the candy, an anniversary drop, and more—highly satisfactory results from his spontaneous good deed. Halvorsen contributes a prologue; biographical, historical, and research notes add information; and selected references, including further-reading suggestions (though no source notes), close out this accessible and positive portrayal of a serviceman who wasn’t on the battlefield. Irresistible. Grades 4-7. –Kathleen Isaacs