Christmas from Heaven is the story of the humble beginnings of what became a beacon of hope to a war-torn land, the story of Gail Halvorsen, a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps who was assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift, in which US forces flew much-needed supplies into a Soviet-blockaded Berlin.
As he performed his duties, Lt. Halvorsen began to notice the German children gathered by the fences of Tempelhof Air Base. Knowing that they had very little, he one day offered them some chewing gum. From that small act, an idea sprang: He would "bomb" Berlin with candy. Fashioning small parachutes, he and his crew sent them floating down as they approached the Berlin airport, wiggling the wings of their C-54 as a signal to the children that their anticipated cargo would soon arrive.
Lt. Halvorsen became known by hundreds, if not thousands, of children in Berlin as "Uncle Wiggly Wings" or "The Candy Bomber." Word soon spread, and donations of candy and other supplies poured in from sympathetic Americans. Lt. Halvorsen's small idea became a great symbol of hope not only to German children in a bombed-out city but to all those who yearned for freedom.
Famed broadcast journalist and author Tom Brokaw brings this remarkable true story to life in a stunning live performance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, captured on the accompanying DVD. Also included in the book is a template and directions for creating your own “Candy Bomber” parachutes.
- Size: 11" x 9"
- Pages: 32
- Year Published: 2013
- DVD Run Time: 13 Min 17 Sec
About the Authors
Tom Brokaw is one of the giants of television journalism. Anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004, he also holds the honor of being the only person to host each of NBC News’s major news programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. He has won several awards, including a Peabody Award and seven Emmys. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks, among other books. He and his wife, Meredith, have three daughters and five grandchildren
Robert T. Barrett is a professor of illustration at Brigham Young University, received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees in painting and completed postgraduate work in Germany. An accomplished painter, muralist, and illustrator, his work has been featured in many national magazines and in art exhibits across the country and in Germany. He and his wife, Vicki, have ten children and one grandchild and reside in Provo, Utah.
The spirit of Christmas
by Stephanie - reviewed on December 05, 2013
What can I say? I was not a very good student of history…and even after serving in the Air Force for 10 years (yes! 10) I knew about "Operation Vittles" during the Berlin Airlift but had no recollection of "Operation Little Vittles." I can't believe I missed something like this in all my history study! Lt. Halvorson "Hal" became known the world over as Berlin's Candy Bomber. The children he met behind the fence that day touched his heart and after watching them share a piece of gum, he knew it would really take so little to cheer them up. After working with his cremates they made the decision to give away all of their own Christmas sweets to these sad children. To do this they created small parachutes weighed with their own rations of candy and sent them down out of the plane to the children… truly engineering a "Christmas From Heaven." Use this for Family Home Evening, it is so much fun! It includes a template to make your own parachutes!
The Spirit of Christmas
by Lisa - reviewed on November 24, 2013
This is a beautifully made book. The book has illustrations with picture inserts of the actual people depicted in the story. "Hal" was 27 years old flying food into West Berlin in 1948. It was Christmas Eve and he realized that what he was doing was the true spirit of Christmas. He had love and compassion in his heart for the people who were hungry and suffering after the end of the war and an idea was formed when he witnessed the children watching him through a barbed wire fence. They were grateful and didn't ask for anything. This started events that lead to Hal being know as "The Candy Bomber." This is a beautiful story that is full of love and good will. The theme is "From little things come big things." When I read the story, I was touched. Then I pulled out the accompanying DVD. This story was featured in a Christmas production of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. While I was touched by reading the book, the story brought tears to my eyes when I watched and felt the spirit of it being read by Tom Brokaw with background music of the choir. Candy parachutes were dropped into the audience and Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen was brought on stage. The spirit of Christmas is stirring in the DVD.
Small & Simple Acts
by Susan - reviewed on December 06, 2013
Having taught a class on WWII and read so many books on the topic, I was fascinated to review the book “Christmas from Heaven – the true story of the Berlin Candy Bomber”. It is in a children’s book format, but is as much for adults as it is children – a great book to read and discuss as a family! I love history and learning from history. I love learning the stories of real people and the remarkable things accomplished in their lives which usually begin in a very small and insignificant way. This story is just one of those tales and reminds me that I too can make a difference by my own small acts of love and kindness. What a great book to add to our Christmas book collection to bring the spirit of Christmas into our home! It even comes with a DVD with a 15-minute segment of the Christmas Devotional Broadcast where this story is told in a beautiful setting of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. PLUS, it gives instructions on how to make your own candy parachute!! Loved it!
by Heather - reviewed on December 01, 2013
What a great true story with an important lesson. I love the DVD that comes with the book and making the craft was so much fun!
A tender story of compassion.
by Heidi - reviewed on December 03, 2013
This book beautifully illustrates what I love about Christmas stories. It's a story of compassion, creativity, and courage from an American pilot, reaching out to German children at the end of World War II. The book includes not only the story as told by Tom Brokaw during the 2012 Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert, but also illustrations and photographs that add the perfect compliment to the tender story. Also included with the book is a DVD presentation of the telling of the story at the Christmas concert. A powerful reminder of how one simple act can turn into something much greater. Highly recommended.
An Incredible Story
by Dave - reviewed on November 13, 2013
Though I was not one of the lucky few who got to witness the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2012 Christmas Concert for free, Deseret Book has rewarded the rest of us...especially with this wonderful book and DVD. Perhaps it's putting a little salt on the wound to make the rest of us pay to watch such a wonderful program that we weren't fortunate to see in person. Still, what can you say with a story like this. What a gift to have Tom Brokaw (a tough, left of Breshnev, atheist at worst, agnostic at best, journalist) share this story in a way that truly uplifts the hardest among us. This story would make a rock cry. It's touching. Can we expect every invited guest going forward to get a book/DVD or even CD deal? I hope so.
Perfect for your Christmas book collection
by Camille - reviewed on November 19, 2013
This is the perfect book to add to your Christmas collection. I read it to three of my boys. My 7yo and I had quite an in-depth discussion about World War II and what kind of hardships the children in Germany experienced. It was not only a great history lesson, but quite a humbling experience for a boy who is very kind, but honestly has never experienced real hunger, cold, fear, or loss. I was halfway through the book when my visiting teacher stopped in for a visit. My 11yo kept reading without us and later said, "Sorry, Mom, I couldn't wait. That's a really cool book." Christmas from Heaven will touch your heart whatever your age. I would highly recommend it.
by Melanie - reviewed on December 09, 2013
What a neat story! My children and I enjoyed reading the book and watching the DVD that came with it. This is a great example of the effect one person can have. Lt. Halvorsen had a simple idea that wound up affecting many lives. The children were excited to get candy and their parents hearts were able to soften because of the kindness shown to them. The end of the DVD is touching as well. I love how the book includes actual photographs and the illustrations match the time period. This is a great book that has helped bring the spirit of Christmas into our home and we will enjoy reading it every year. I highly recommend this book to everyone!
by Shauna - reviewed on November 23, 2013
On Christmas Eve, 1948, American pilot, Gail Halvorsen (Hal), was delivering 20,000 pounds of flour to war-torn Germany in what was termed "Operation Vittles." On this delivery his mind traveled "back six months to the day that had changed his life." It was on that day that he saw a group of children... He talked with them and marveled at their humble, grateful attitudes. He offered them two sticks of gum and wished he had more to give. An idea was formed... Read this amazing book and find out how Hal became known as "the candy bomber." WONDERFULLY ILLUSTRATED! BEAUTIFULLY TOLD! A VERY TOUCHING ~ TRUE ~ STORY! Included with the book is the DVD of Tom Brokaw telling this story at the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert in 2012...
Fabulous gift for families with older kids
by jennifer - reviewed on November 18, 2013
Christmas From Heaven was perfect for my family. The true story absolutely captivated my eight-year-old and the pages are long and smooth and gorgeously illustrated. She really enjoyed reading it, and then I put on the DVD that came with it and she just about died from the awesome. "Mom! He's reading at the same time as me!" She didn't care that it was Tom Brokaw in a velvet sport coat with his velvet voice she was just captivated by the story and the performance. (I have had the pleasure of attending a Temple Square Christmas Thing years ago, and I know how amazing the productions are--and Christmas From Heaven was no different. I wish I could have seen it live.) And then--THEN!-- the most delightful, beautiful deviation from the book happened on stage. And we all*** started crying. (I don't want to give it away, but there was an awesome visitor.) As soon as it was over, we talked for a minute about how one person doing one good thing makes a difference, and then my daughter ran the book to the neighbor's house because she wanted to share it before they went to bed. Christmas From Heaven is awesome. It would be a perfect gift for families with older kids, especially if you attach some mint gum to go along with the story. I have a feeling it will be making the rounds throughout our neighborhood this year.
Perfect Christmas Story
by Emilee - reviewed on December 02, 2013
This was a remarkable story and I absolutely loved it. If you started a tradition of reading Christmas stories to your family each year, I suggest this one. It was a heartfelt true story of the Berlin Candy Bomber. I appreciated the photos and illustrations throughout the book. It also included a DVD which was outstanding. I enjoyed reading this book to my son who is three (sort of young). He didn't quite understand but I summarized a few parts and he especially liked the airplanes. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves to snuggle up with their family to read a good book. It is also perfect for Family Home Evening
Warm fuzzy feelings, a must read for all ages!
by Renae - reviewed on November 22, 2013
"The real spirit of Christmas-to give whatever we have, no matter how small the gift." Author Tom Brokaw gives his readers a renewed outlook on giving and receiving, and is a great story to read to your children or alone in hopes of remembering what is truly important during hard times. That feeling of warmth you get when you read something beautiful occurred while reading about the selflessness of these men during World War II. I appreciate the true story aspect, and the history which is unfolded through the use of pictures and details of the era making it an important book to read, and a fun way to encompass a greater moral of the hardships and appreciation of people and children during World War II. This easy to read, short version of the Berlin Candy Bomber holds your attention with just enough history, detail, and factual information along with beautiful graphics from illustrator Robert T. Barrett. Children in our society tend to forget the importance of giving and appreciating all they have whether great or small. This book will be a great reminder of how fortunate they are, and will be a great lesson in reflecting on one's true self. I highly recommend this book, it makes a perfect addition to any bookshelf! A must read during the Holiday Seasons! http://bookdeep.blogspot.com
A great story about the spirit of Christmas!
by Alexis - reviewed on November 25, 2013
I love the quote in the book, "This is the real spirit of Christmas - to give whatever we have, no matter how small the gift." It reminds me of the story of the little drummer boy who had nothing to give to the baby Jesus, but to play a song for him. What a wonderful story to read to your family to help them better understand the spirit of giving during Christmas! It really is a touching story and amazing that one man was able to do so much for the German children during such desperate times. And they even show you how to make little candy parachutes at the end of the book so you can make them with your children. So fun! This is definitely a book you'll want to add to your Christmas collection.
The true meaning of Christmas
by Brenda - reviewed on November 23, 2013
Christmas From Heaven is the true story that is perfect for youngsters because it shares the true meaning of Christmas. The story takes us back to 1948 where we meet young Hal Halvorsen a twenty-seven year old American Pilot who participated in the Berlin Airlift dubbed "Operation Vittles"a food drop that America and Britain did to keep West Berliners from starving after the war. One day Hal is inspired to give something to the German children standing by the fence at Tempelhof Air Base. He gives all he had which is two sticks of gum,that act of kindness was the beginning of The Candy Bomber. What a wonderfully touching story that is filled not only with beautiful, eye catching illustrations but also photographs of German children.There is even a personal letter from a young girl that captured the gratitude that the children felt.The history that this story provides is priceless, a true story that really shows us the meaning of Christmas! There is even instructions on how to make a candy parachute. This is a beautiful hard back book, with a lovely dust jacket. A wonderful added bonus is a dvd that has Tom Brokaw reading the story.Perfect for gift giving, "Christmas From Heaven" is sure to become a keepsake to be passed down and read each holiday season. A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.