Archive for War

My Brother’s War by David Hill

My Brother’s War by David Hill is a finalist in the Junior Fiction category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  This was one of the books that I hadn’t read at the time it was released, but I read it recently as part of my challenge to read all of the 2013 finalists. 

My Dear Mother,

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve joined the Army!

Don’t be angry at me, Mother dear. I know you were glad when I wasn’t chosen in the ballot. But some of my friends were, and since they will be fighting for King and Country, I want to do the same.

It’s New Zealand, 1914, and the biggest war the world has known has just broken out in Europe.

William eagerly enlists for the army but his younger brother, Edmund, is a conscientious objector and refuses to fight. While William trains to be a soldier, Edmund is arrested.

Both brothers will end up on the bloody battlefields of France, but their journeys there are very different. And what they experience at the front line will challenge the beliefs that led them there.

My Brother’s War is a compelling story about two brothers who have very different opinions and experiences of the First World War.  William feels very strongly that he needs to play his part in the war and so he enlists in the army.  The people in his town commend him for being brave and doing his part.  He believes he is doing what is right to protect his country and the people he loves.  He can’t understand his brother and thinks that his refusal to enlist is ‘wrong and stupid.’  His brother, Edmund, is a conscientious objector who believes it is wrong to go to war and kill other people.  The story switches between their two points-of-view so you see the huge differences in their experience of war.  The story is mainly told in the third person, but each of the characters write letters to their mother which gives more of an insight into their thoughts and feelings.

You experience the build up to the fighting and the horrible conditions of the battlefield through William’s story, but it was Edmund’s story that shocked me.  I knew a little about conscientious objectors before reading this book but Edmund’s story really opened my eyes to how horribly they were treated.  Conscientious objectors like Edmund were labeled cowards and treated like second-class citizens.  Edmund constantly refuses to obey army orders, but in the end really has no choice.  He’s put on a boat and taken to France where he is forced on to the battlefields.  In the training camps he is locked away with little food and water, and he also faces excruciating punishment for not following orders.  Edmund is incredibly strong-willed though and stands by his principles.

A quote from Edmund towards the end of the book sums up war perfectly , ‘I never knew some men could do such dreadful things to one another, and I never knew some men could be so kind and brave.’

Comments off

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.

Gregor the Overlander is about a boy named Gregor who lives in an apartment in New York with his mother, grandmother and two sisters. One day, he goes to the laundry room with his sister Boots, and they discover the Underland.  The Underland is a place hundreds of feet under New York filled with giant bats, cockroaches, rats, scorpions and strange people, who send Gregor and Boots on a quest searching for their missing father.

My favorite character is Luxa, the queen of the Underland.  She is a little arrogant but very brave.  Gregor the Overlander is the first in a five book series. I give it a 8 and a half out of 10. Gregor the Overlander is suitable for 9 to 13-year-olds; boys and girls alike.  Suzanne Collins is also the author of the best-selling trilogy The Hunger Games.

By Luka, age 11

Comments off

A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo has written some of my favourite stories – Private Peaceful, Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, and Shadow.  He one of the best storytellers around.  Michael’s latest book, A Medal for Leroy, is inspired by the life of Walter Tull, the only black officer to serve in the British Army in the First World War.

Michael doesn’t remember his father, who died in a Spitfire over the English Channel. And his mother, heartbroken and passionate, doesn’t like to talk about him. But then Michael’s aunt gives him a medal and a photograph, which begin to reveal a hidden story.

A story of love, loss and secrets.

A story that will change everything – and reveal to Michael who he really is…

A Medal for Leroy is a story of war, love and family secrets.  Like many of Michael’s other stories, it’s told from the point of view of someone who is old (in this case Michael) looking back at his life and telling the reader the story of what happened.  I really like this style of storytelling because it makes you feel like you are just sitting down for a cup of tea with the main character while they tell you the story.  Michael tells us that he never knew his father because he died during the war, but his mother and his aunties love him very much.  When one of his aunties dies, she leaves a special package for Michael, full of family secrets.  In this package, Michael learns about his auntie’s life and about the father he never knew.  Her story is heart-breaking, but with moments of happiness and hope.

Once again, Michael Morpurgo has written an emotional story that you get caught up in.  Even though the war is happening, you hope that everything is going to be fine, that Martha will meet Leroy again, and her father will welcome her home.  As always, Michael presents the realities of war to portray what life was like during this horrible time.  Even though Michael has returned to a topic that he has written about many times before, A Medal for Leroy, is a different story and just as wonderful as his other war stories, like Private Peaceful, War Horse, and An Elephant in the GardenYou can read more about the person who inspired this story, Walter Tull, at the back of the book too.

4 out of 5 stars

Comments off

Lest we forget: Remember the fallen on ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on 25 April.  It is a time when we remember New Zealanders and Australians who fought in wars around the world. We might attend a dawn service and parade, talk to older relatives about their memories, buy and wear a red poppy, make ANZAC biscuits, and remember our family members who fought in wars.

We have a great kids webpage that you can check out for anything you would like to know about ANZAC Day and Gallipoli.  You’ll find fast facts, links to books and resources that the library has on ANZAC Day, and links to some great websites with extra information.

On Friday I’ll be talking about some of my favourite ANZAC books, including A Rose for the ANZAC Boys, The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound, When Empire Calls and The Red Poppy.

Comments (4) »

If you could time travel where would you go?

Books can make you wonder what it would be like to live in a different time and place.  Some stories are set in a particular time in history or are about a historical event.  The My Story books are great because they take you back to a specific time in history and let you know what it was like to live in that time, through the diary of a boy or girl who lived then.  They show you the sights, sounds, and smells of that time period, which is quite different from ours.

If you could time travel, what time would you like to visit or what event would you like witness?

 

Comments (2) »

Win a War Horse Prize Pack

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:

Comments (11) »

Guest Post: Brian Falkner – Alien Invasion!

When I was a young reader the two kinds of books I most liked were science fiction, and the thrillers of Alistair McLean.

It so happened that a year or so ago my glance fell on a copy of “Where Eagles Dare” by Alistair McLean, and the idea popped into my head to combine my two favourite kinds of books. So I set out to write an Alistair McLean inspired science fiction war thriller. I even named the first chapter “Where Angels Fear” as a tribute to McLean.

I wanted to write a book that was exciting and action-packed from the get-go, and didn’t let up until the very end. Yet at the same time I wanted to have characters that seemed believable and interesting. I have read other “action-packed” books where the characters were just a flimsy excuse to move the action from one scene to the next, and I didn’t want to write that kind of book, because I want the reader to care about the characters.

When I started developing the idea for the book, I quickly realised that it was too big for a single book, and it would have to be a series, each with their own story. I eventually decided on four books, although I have left it open to write more books if I want to later.

I wanted to write a series of war stories, but I didn’t want it set so far in the future that it became Space Opera, with laser guns and spaceships. (I love Star Wars and those kinds of stories, but I wanted this to be different.) I wanted this to be more like a real war, with weapons that were close to those we have now, but just a little bit futuristic. I wanted the conflict to seem real, and the introduction and the forward are all part of setting the scene for a realistic war, that just happens to be against aliens, not human beings.

For the name of the alien race, I wanted harsh sounds, and it had to include a Z (you’ll understand why, if you read the book). After trying out a lot of names, I was eventually inspired by the word “Buzzard” which conjures up images of an ugly, carrion-eating bird. So the aliens became “Bzadians” which incorporates the same sounds.

Writing “Assault” the first book of the Recon Team Angel series, was a wild ride, and I hope you enjoy reading it just as much.

Pictured are the NZ and the US covers.

Cheers

Brian

You can read Chapter One of The Assault here.

Comments off

%d bloggers like this: