Cover Image: All He Knew

All He Knew

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World War II is a widely written about topic for middle grade children because it is incredibly popular topic, but Helen Frost has found a unique way of exposing her readers to an aspect of World War II that isn't well known. Henry is a normal little boy, until one day he isn't. He gets sick, runs a high fever, and suffers an earache which results in hearing loss. His mother, under pressure from some more affluent women in the community, looks for a place where he can be cared for.  The school for the deaf deems him "unteachable," forcing his mother to take him to the only other option, Riverview. 

Riverview is an unpleasant institution where people with disabilities are sent. The treatment of patients is harsh, but Henry makes a few friends. And through those friends and a conscientious objector who has been sent to Riverview as an attendant, Henry isn't anywhere close to being unteachable.  Helen Frost tells a tragic, but moving story of what people with disabilities experienced in the United States during World War II through this novel in verse.
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What a powerful story! I think kids will really enjoy this novel in verse. It gives a glimpse into the life of someone with an impairment.
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This was one of my favorite reads of the summer. This book takes place prior to World War II, where the main character Henry is deaf, but brilliant. Options were limited for schooling, so he is sent to a school for the "feeble minded". I loved the friendships Henry made throughout the book. This was such a beautiful and often heart breaking story, but I enjoyed every page of it!
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We chose to add this book to our Mock Newbery Club list for 2020. The story in verse is accessible and the content is heart breaking. It's prior to World War 2. After losing his hearing at a young age, Henry is placed in an institution for the feeble minded. Frost does a good job of sharing Henry's assumptions and misunderstandings that are generated from the premises he makes with limited information. The book ends with hope as the reader is again reminded of the good that can happen when we care for humankind with just that, HUMANity and KINDness.
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All He Knew was a beautifully written story about Henry set in during WWII. Henry is deaf, but brilliant. Options were limited so he is sent to a school for the "feeble minded". I loved the friendships Henry had. This was a beautiful and sometimes heart breaking story, but I enjoyed every minute.
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An institutionalized deaf child is befriended by a WW2 conscientious objector.  Problematic American policies in public education are transcended by caring relationships. This is definitely a book both for young readers and for anyone interested in US social and educational history.  Written in free verse and sonnets, it is coupled with back matter that allows further exploration of the topics.
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All He Knew tells the story of a young deaf boy named Henry, around the time of World War II, who is sent to a home for “unteachable” children by a family who thinks they are doing the right thing, and of the inhumane treatment received by the residents of the home. It is also the story of a young man named Victor, who is a Conscientious Objector during the war, taking on the role of a caretaker of Henry and his friends, and his fight to make sure the residents are treated with respect and dignity. The story is told in verse, as well as in letters from Victor and Henry’s family. The reader is also reading Henry’s thoughts and feelings of confusion, anxiety, hurt, and, ultimately, joy and peace. This is a gentle telling of harsh events, and one that will open the reader’s eyes to the horrible cruelties of those who were locked away because of their mental, physical or emotional struggles throughout history. This book is well-researched and well-written.
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This historical fiction novel-in-verse left me speechless. The way Frost tugs at your emotions is something else. As Henry was aging, his parents and sister realized he had some issues with his hearing, which eventually lead to complete hearing loss. His parents took him to the State School for the Deaf, where they gave him a test to blow out candles. For Henry, he had no clue why the man kept blowing out candles and didn't understand the purpose. The School for the Deaf labeled him as "unteachable"... solely on this single "assessment". The alternative to going to the School for the Deaf was to send him to the Riverview Home for the Feebleminded. His parents knew he was anything but "feebleminded". However, they did not have many options as they were struggling with money and could not afford special hearing aids for him. The wardens treat the kids at Riverview terribly and it hurt so much to read it and feel it. However, I loved the friendships that Henry made while staying at Riverview. As years passed, it only took one person to see that Henry is truly brilliant. The end of this beautiful, gripping story was so emotional and I got the chills more than once. You'll have to read to find out how the story ends and what happens! I am so excited to add this book to my novel-in-verse collection. Yet another amazing 2020 read!
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This poetic narrative is also a historical fiction story that provides insight into how people with disabilities were treated in the 1940s.  This is also layered with life in America during WWII and how conscientious objectors were viewed.  The treatment of Henry and the other children is heartbreaking.  Maine readers might make connections to Pineland.
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All He Knew is a novel in verse about a young boy named Henry who loses his hearing due to a high fever.  Henry is sent to the Riverside Home for the Feebleminded as a result of being labeled "unteachable."  Told from various perspectives, readers get a window into the world of the 1940s and how disabilities were viewed.  There were a few gaps in the story that I didn't piece together until later, but all in all this was a great read.  

Teaching Tip:  It would be a really great pair with "Song for a Whale."
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Henry got very ill at a young age and lost his hearing.  His older sister takes care of him, sticking close.  But when he reaches school age, his parents must make a choice.  Will they send him to the school for the deaf or to the school for those who have physical problems?  Mom wants to send him to the school for the deaf but she doesn't like what the matron has to say.  She thinks he's stupid even before she's met him.  They send him to the other school.

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 11th.

The other school is further away and they can't visit often.  They don't have the funds.  So poor Henry goes to this home where he sleeps in a ward with other boys and gets abused by the men working there.  They strap bad boys into chairs and leave them there for days.  That's never happened to Harry but he doesn't wake in the morning, so the man pulls his blankets off rudely and shouts at him.  He fixes him, though.  He has this really smelly fart and pulls his blankets tight.  When the man pulls the blankets off he gets that wonderful aroma.  After that, he just shakes his shoulder.

He makes two good friends.  They do things together.  The smaller one is missing an arm and he decides to run away.  Henry retrieves him and they sneak back in at the end of the breakfast line.  The new man says nothing.  He's much kinder.

When Henry gets sick again the put him in the sick ward.  There are a lot of others there.  It's the mumps.  When little Billy gets sick, he doesn't come back.  Henry grieves...

Then his other friend gets to go home.  Will Henry ever get to go home?
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This poignant novel in verse is inspired by true events during World War II. When Henry is left deaf following an illness and declared “unteachable” he is sent away to be institutionalized. While at Riverview, a state run institution, Henry along with the others there are abused at the hands of those supposed to help them. This touching and heartbreaking read dealing with the difficulties disabled children faced during this time period delivers plenty to discuss. It will appeal to those interested in learning more about WWII, but from a point of view they may never have experienced before.
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A fantastic book - a novel in verse - that tells the story of Henry who, at age five, is committed to an institution based on failing an oral test he couldn't even hear. He was judged feeble-minded and sent away. Henry persists and when WWII comes along, a conscientious objector is assigned to Henry's institution and his empathy makes a world of change for Henry. Fantastic read!
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Told in verse and based on real life events, this story was new to me. The treatment of children with physical disabilities was much different in the 1930s and 1940s. Henry becomes deaf due to a childhood illness. He is mistakenly placed in a home for feeble minded children along with others wrongfully placed there. The attendants are not nice, some downright mean. Henry's struggling family and loving sister yearn to visit and bring him home. When conscientious objectors to WWII become the attendants to Henry's facility, life changes for Henry and others - it changes for the better. This was an interesting and informative read. I read it in one sitting, an indication of how intriguing Henry's story is.
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Really interesting premise--a child who has gone deaf stranded at a school for the "feebleminded," his family busy and stretched thin and feeling guilty, and the young conscientious objector who arrives at the school to relieve the staff shortage during World War II. The verse format lets the reader experience heavy topics with a lighter touch, and I really like the idea of the CO. Kids are interested in WWII but this is a side of things they may not have encountered before. The teenage CO sees the students quite differently than the longtime staff, and an author's note explains how such schools were never the same after the war. Heavy in places but never unbearable, and ultimately uplifting.
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This story tugs at the heartstrings. It shows a heartbreaking truth about how people were treated whose conditions and diseases were misunderstood at the time. The main character is ultra lovable. The character of Victor is intriguing as well, as he is a conscientious objector, which leads him to Riverview, where he’s able to be an ally for Henry.  There is so much worth discussing about this title! I could see it being used in book clubs.
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A look at a young deaf boy in the 1930’s is institutionalized after he is deemed “not smart”. The use of verse helped get the reader into the characters mindset. A unique story not typically told in children’s books.
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Very good middle school verse novel based on true events during World War II. Henry is a boy who lost his hearing when he was close to five years old due to a high fever. His family doesn't have much money so Henry is sent to Riverview, a state run institution. While at Riverview, Henry is misunderstood, abused, and neglected. It is only after meeting Victor who is part of the Civilian Civil Service program that Henry begins to come into his own again. The book was very interesting and I love Helen Frost as a writer; however, I didn't find this book to be as captivating as some of her other works.
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This book was a wonderful read!! I loved it!  It was emotional and touching and moving!  The prose verse that it was written in added to the feel of Henry's confusion.  It is a shameful time in history and education, But Frost's handling of it makes a wonderful story.  I have enjoyed her other books and this book is a wonderful addition to a great collection.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for providing me with a free DRC in exchange for an honest review.

Inspired by true events, during the era of WWII, this poignant historical fiction written in verse tells the story of young Henry, the sister who loves him, and the conscientious objector who helps him. Henry was born an intelligent, healthy baby boy, however, around the age of four he fell ill. The illness would steal not only his hearing but also the world around him. Though Henry was intelligent and did well trying to be aware of language, he still needed to be formally educated. His family found a school for the deaf that could educate him, but due to his resistance to interact with strangers at all, the school refused to take him and labeled him “unteachable”. Therefore, Henry is sent to Riverview, an institution for the mentally disabled. Something Henry was not. And it would take the love of his sister and the kindness of Victor, a conscientious objector, for the truth of who Henry truly was to be revealed.

This was a very sweet and heartbreaking story.  The author captures what children who lived in these facilities suffered through daily. As well as how many children didn’t belong there at all.The book also covers neglect and abuse at the hands of some of the workers at the institution. This is very much a middle grade book and the details are not graphic or disturbing. My only negative for this book is that it isn't very well written stylistically, yet the topic is interesting and engaging. I would definitely recommend this for middle schoolers who are interested in that particular time period.
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