Taken from their home, forced to leave their country, put to work in labour camps, frozen and starved, Adam and his family doubt that they will ever make it out alive. Even if they were to get away, they might freeze to death, or starve, or the bears might get them. For the Polish refugees, the whole of the USSR becomes a prison from which there is seemingly no escape.
A Winter’s Day in 1939 is a story of family, the harsh realities of war, and the fight for survival against the odds. Adam and his family are ripped from their safe, comfortable life in Poland and transported to prison camps in Russia, in freezing conditions and with little to eat and drink. They get transported in dirty, stinking train carriages with a stove and a pipe as a toilet, live in cramped barracks with many other families, and are forced to work for the good of Russia. People die of exposure to the freezing conditions and disease is rife. In these conditions you need to have to will to survive, and for Adam and his family, this is what is keeping them going.
The story is narrated by Adam, so you see everything through his eyes. You feel how much he wants to survive and how important his family is to him. You get a real sense of how desperate their situation gets as time goes by, especially when it comes to food. When a clerk at one of the evacuation centers apologizes to Adam for the lack of food, Adam says ‘He sounded sorry about it but that was no help to us. You couldn’t eat ‘sorry.” You want so much for Adam and his family to survive the war and be able to return home, but you don’t know if their story will have a happy ending.
One of the things that stands out in Melinda’s story is the sense that Adam, his family, and the other refugees around them, hadn’t done anything wrong, yet they’re treated the way they are. Adam says this himself, ‘We were being punished but I hadn’t done anything wrong. None of us had.’ These people have been thrown out of their homes and sent to prison camps for no reason what so ever.
A Winter’s Day in 1939 is a war story that hasn’t been told before and it will have an affect on readers of all ages. Stories like Melinda’s help us to remember all those people who died during this horrific period of history and I’ll certainly remember Adam’s story for a long time.
4 out of 5 stars
War Horse is one of the movies I can’t wait to see. It’s directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the amazing book written by Michael Morpurgo. To celebrate the release of the movie we have 4 War Horse prize packs to give away, thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont. Four lucky kids will win a copy of the book and a double movie pass to go and see the movie.
All you have to do to get in the draw is leave a comment telling us: What is your favourite animal story and why? Leave a comment on this post with your answer and your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).
Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. The winners of the War Horse prize packs are:
I love both stories about war and stories about animals, which is my I love Michael Morpurgo. Most of his stories are about war or animals and sometimes both. His latest book is called Little Manfred and it’s about war, and a dog that sparks the memories of an old man.
It’s the summer of 1966 and Charley and her little brother, Alex, are walking their dog Manfred on the beach by their home when they notice two old men staring out to sea. When the two men discover that their dog is called Manfred, this sparks the memories of Walter and he tells the children about his experiences during World War II. Through Walter’s story, Charley and Alex learn about their mother’s past and her connection to Manfred, a German prisoner of war who was posted at her farmhouse when she was a little girl.
Michael Morpurgo has woven another amazing story of friendship, bravery, and forgiveness that transported me to another time and another place. Whenever I read a Michael Morpurgo book it’s almost as if he is sitting on my couch or in the library beside me, telling me the story, because I can hear his voice in my head. If you’ve ever seen one of his videos of him reading you’ll know that he’s got the perfect storytelling voice. Michael Foreman’s illustrations, once again, perfectly match the story because they can be bright and happy or dark and gloomy. I think Michael Morpurgo’s books are perfect for anyone and if you haven’t read any of his books, Little Manfred is a great one to start with.
Recommended for 7+ 10 out of 10
If you want to know more about the story and find out what Michael Morpurgo’s inspiration was, you can read about it on the Guardian Children’s Books website.
HarperCollins NZ also have Little Manfred featured as their Book of the Week on their Facebook page. Head on over for your chance to win a copy.
- Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
- Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
- Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French
- The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
I’ve always loved stories set during or after wartime because they show you the horrible things that children and adults had to go through. A great story will make you imagine yourself in the character’s shoes and these 5 books definitely do that.
What are your favourite war stories?
Linda Sue Park has weaved two stories into one in this great book. Nya has to walk for two hours each way to get water for her family. She does this twice a day every day. Eight hours a day!
Salva is also walking. Away from his war torn homeland. His journey across Africa from his homeland Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya is a journey that will take many years. Along the way he encounters many dangers.
This book is a novel but it is based on a true story. It is based around the Second Sudanese Civil War which started in 1983. Millions of people were displaced often unable to return to their homes. Among the displaced there were large groups of boys who becam known as the Lost Boys. This is the story of one of those boys.
Bruno is a nine year old boy who lives in Berlin with his family during the second world war. One day, he comes home to find Maria – the maid – packing all of his things. His mother explains to him that they are moving to the countryside because of his father’s job. Even though Bruno never knew what his fathers job was, he understood because his parents always told him he was a very important man.
When Bruno arrives at his new house, he immediately wants to go back, finding that Out-With (the house’s name) has many downsides. Firstly, it only has three floors when his home in Berlin had five.
Secondly, it had no places to explore, no secret rooms or hiding places, when his old house was full of nooks and old rooms.
And Lastly, it was in the middle of nowhere. It lay in a field of a few small trees and the house. Since it was in the middle of nowhere, there would be no school, which meant no friends to play with. And he couldnt possibly play with his sister Gretal, because she was a hopeless case.
His room was on the highest floor. It was dull and had a strange but interesting view out of the window. In the distance, beyond a high fence, was a group of a thousand or more people. They all wore striped pyjamas and lived in huts. Sometimes soldiers would yell at them or worse.
One day, curiosity got the better of Bruno and he took a long walk towards the fence. Some time later, when he finally reached the fence. He noticed a small boy about his age, sitting on the opposite side of the fence wearing striped pyjamas and looking at the dirt. Bruno talked with he boy. His name was Shmuel. Everyday Bruno and Shmuel met at the fence and talked. They were best friends in no time. But would this friendship be good for their lives, as they were completely diferent and that Bruno’s father had sometimes been seen on the other side of the fence, punishing people in striped pyjamas?
This is a very good, detailed book. Even though I dont like war stories very much, this has to be one of my top ten favourite books. It has a great storyline and an exiting twist in the last few pages. I know the kids blog is for children 8-12, I think this book should be 11+. I give it 9\10.
Dreams of Warriors is about a girl called Bella whose dad is off fighting in the war and to make matters worse there’s a mad horse who’s got a problem but when help comes Bella needs to be wise.
I love it! It’s a great book and I hope you enjoy it. Ages 10-14.
ANZAC Day is celebrated on 25 April every year in New Zealand and Australia to remember all the members of the armed forces who served in the two World Wars and other major conflicts, such as the Vietnam and Korean Wars. You can learn some interesting facts about ANZAC Day and some of the wars that our troops fought in by:
There are also lots of dawn parades and memorials around Christchurch and Canterbury that you could go along to to remember those that died fighting for their country.