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.