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Bette Greene (1934–2020), “Summer of My German Soldier” author

by Linnea Crowther

Bette Greene was an author of children’s and young adult books including the 1973 National Book Award finalist “Summer of My German Soldier.”

Notable books

“Summer of My German Soldier” takes place in Arkansas during World War II, following a young Jewish girl as she develops a relationship with a German POW and hides him in her garage. Greene later said that the story was autobiographical. Beloved by readers, “Summer of My German Soldier” has also been targeted by book-banning campaigns. Greene’s “The Drowning of Stephan Jones” (1991) was another frequently challenged book, taking inspiration from a real-life case of three young men who killed a gay man by throwing him off a bridge. Greene won the Newbery Honor for her 1974 book “Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe.” Her other books include “Morning Is a Long Time Coming” (1978) and “Them That Glitter and Them That Don’t” (1983).

Greene on her books being challenged and banned

“You don’t have to feel sorry for me, because I’m in the company of Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Twain and even [Maurice] Sendak’s classic picture book, ‘In the Night Kitchen.’” —from an essay for the Boston Herald

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Tributes to Bette Greene

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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