Last year, not long after I read and watched Band of Brothers for the first time, I found out about a Kickstarter project run by a descendant of one of Easy Company’s most beloved medics. Chris Langlois, the grandson of Eugene “Doc” Roe, had an idea for a children’s book about Easy Company and had started a fundraising campaign so he could have the book illustrated and published.
I found out about the Kickstarter on Tumblr, and I was thrilled! My younger siblings aren’t nearly old enough to watch Band of Brothers yet, but they, like the rest of our family, already have a deep love for World War II history. The idea of being able to to introduce them (and other kids!) to the story of Easy Company through illustrations and an easy-to-understand narrative excited me. I was so honored to participate in the Kickstarter.
Fast forward a year or so, and Chris sent me my two autographed copies of How Easy Company Became a Band of Brothers*. My mom used the book to prep her three youngest students (ranging in age from 13 to 8) for our recent visit to Toccoa, Georgia. We even took our picture with it at the top of Mount Currahee!
The book does a fantastic job of bringing Easy Company’s story down to a kid-friendly but honest level. The horrors of World War II are never diminished (as seen in the sections about Bastogne and the concentration camp at Landsberg)–but they’re never gratuitous, either. Young readers are given brief but well-written overviews about some of the weapons used by Easy Company, the various medals awarded to courageous members of the United States Armed Forces, and paratrooper gear.
The narrative takes the reader all the way from the establishment of the 101st Airborne in 1942 to its deactivation in 1945, introducing all of Band of Brothers‘ most prominent characters, from Dick Winters to Captain Sobel to Colonel Sink to Don Malarkey to Doc Roe himself.
Interesting tidbit: the illustrator, Anneke Helleman, is actually from the Netherlands!
The day we visited Mount Currahee, I sent the photo of our family with the book to Chris Langlois. It turned out that we missed crossing paths by just a week: he’d be in Toccoa not long afterward for the town’s military weekend. But I hadn’t been home for more than a few days before he announced on Doc Roe Publishing’s Facebook page that he’d be at our local Barnes & Noble for a book signing!
It was so. Much. Fun. His aunt Maxine, Doc Roe’s daughter, was there as well–a true Southern lady, full of friendly smiles! We had a great time talking with her while our family waited in line to meet Chris–but when my dad showed her our picture on Mount Currahee she hurried to show it to her nephew, not realizing that I’d sent it to him a couple of weeks ago. He looked at the photo, frowned, and said: “Wait a minute–I’ve seen this picture before.”
“Yes,” I laughed, “because I sent it to you!”
Cue a lot of laughter, hugs, picture-taking, and an all-too-brief but joyful conversation about the incredible legacy left to us by our World War II veterans. It was an awesome experience!
I can’t recommend this book enough. If you have kids who are interested in World War II, paratroopers, and the story behind the Band of Brothers miniseries, How Easy Company Became a Band of Brothers* is a great place to start.