One Boy’s War
Illustrated by: Benfold Haywood
Published by: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Ages: 7 – 11years
Themes: War, Hope, longing, despair
Opening Lines: WAR HAS BEEN DECLARED! The papers are full of the news that the Germans have attacked France. Pa is restless. His pals are rushing off in droves to join up. He says, “It’s every man’s duty to fight for King and Country.”
Synopsis: from the front flap – It is 1914, and 16 year-old Sydney is bursting to get a crack at the Kaiser. Fired up by the military recruitment campaigns and the brave men going off to fight in the Great War, he runs away to enlist, but soon finds himself in a frontline trench where reality – and the rats – begin to bite. Told through Sydney’s optimistic letters home and his journal, this is his honest portrayal of the disillusionment and degradation in the trenches of World War 1.
Why I like it: Described as an outstanding, fearless book it is based on a true story of the real Sydney Dobson who perished in World War 1. Told from the view-point of the young soldier, who lied about his age, so he could follow his father in to battle. This is a dramatic account of life in the trenches, with huge water-colour illustrations leaving nothing to the imagination. The ending is both powerful and heart wrenching, not quite what I expected. You could say this story broke a few rules as picture books go. Still, I would enjoy reading it again as both text and illustrations are captivating. This would be a great school library addition. With the 100 year anniversary of Wold War 1 in 2014, this would make a great contribution to discussions about war, past and present. Not only of the effects it has on its soldiers but also of the people left behind.
Resources/Findings: The back pages of this book have some facts of Sydney Dobson and about World War 1.
There are a number of pages, resources on war .. here is one on the effect it has on environment and children…. http://cultureofpeace.org/impactofwar
Here’s another http://www.ppu.org.uk/chidren/children_effect_yugo.html
An interesting and informative website with many links for teachers and parents. http://www.reachandteach.com/content/article.php/2005120617102976
Pop over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.
Someone in WOW was just asking about picture books that deal with war. This is a perfect example. Mind if I share your link?
Your very welcome to do so, Wendy. Lovely seeing you here.
PS: love your blog, and interesting posts. Unfortunately I keep getting kicked out whenever I try to comment. (just so you know).
That sounds very gripping, Diane. Good for kids to appreciate too.
Yes it is, Catherine. The book is well presented, well researched and real. Gripping? Yes!
This story sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing!
Your very welcome, Sue.
There are so few PB about war, and this sounds very interesting — especially since the protagonist is 16. Is this nonfiction since its based on a true story? Like your resource links!
I would say it is, Pat. Told in story form from his letters and his journal. Although I tend to think of it as Historical fiction. Glad you liked this. I actually had another book about another war, but had to hand it back to the library as I ran out of time. Hopefully I will get it out again at another time. Have a great weekend.
Yes, I’m reviewing a lot MG and YA books about various aspects of the war. I am amazed at the human spirit.
I think it is important to have picture books for older elementary kids on war. Great find, Diane.
Thank you, Joanna. Glad you like it.
Wow – this is a perfect find this week as we just celebrated Veteran’s Day on Monday. Thanks Diane!
Yes, Julie, I knew you had just celebrated Veteran’s Day (we celebrate Anzac Day in April) and I thought it appropriate. Glad you like this.
This is a real gem! My Dad lied about his age, too, so he could fight in WW I. I’m checking this out!
Amazing! I hope you find it Jarm. Enjoy!
I don’t know much about war. I hear it talked about a lot, but it doesn’t make any sense to me. I am thankful that I’ve never experienced anything like it. And I’m sure that most kids reading this book would be thankful as well. i guess there are a lot of kids who have parents going off to war these days. There seem to be quite a few at our schools. This is probably an important book, but one that would be hard to read.
I too am grateful I have never experienced a member of my family going off to war. My Dad was in the marines when my parents married. I can’t even begin to think of what that is like having someone you love going off to war. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have no war to send them to. Thanks, Rythm
A great idea. War can seem unreal to many young people and it’s important that they know it is not something glamorous.
So true, Darlene. Young ones these days have no idea how it really is. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh, you’ve piqued my curiosity. Lying about your age to help your father will make an excellent talking point with my little peacemakers. Thank you!
So glad to be of help. Thank you so much for stopping by, Barbara!
Wow. This looks like a moving and powerful story, Diane. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get through it, never mind kids! But based on your recommendation, I’d very much like to read it. I’m always glad to add books on difficult topics and picture books for older readers, so thank you for this gem!
Your very welcome, Susanna. It seemed appropriate for the Anniversary you are celebrating earlier this week. It will certainly be useful in discussions in school not only of war, but prevention, affects on soldiers and people left behind. It is well written and illustrated.
Thanks for your thoughtful review and links. Very powerful.
Thank you, Joanne. It is!
Sounds like a good nonfiction book!
Wow. Tough topic, but looks like a great book. I’m interested in reading this.
I’ll be looking for this one. I like the one’s Michael Foreman has done too.
Glad you like it, Thanks, Julie.
I can see kids really being interested in this. I’m going to add it to my list!
Thanks, hope you enjoy it, Penny.