Posts tagged war

Michael Morpurgo Month – Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.  We’re celebrating by highlighting some of our favourite Michael Morpurgo stories, including Shadow.

Life in Afghanistan is terrifying for Aman and his family and they want nothing more than to escape.  When a Springer Spaniel appears in the mouth of their cave, Aman nurses the dog back to health.  The dog is like a “friendly shadow” that stays with Aman and his family and so he decides to call her Shadow.  When life becomes more dangerous, Aman and his mother leave their home and escape, with Shadow leading the way.

One of the things I like about Michael Morpurgo’s books is that you often get two stories in one.  In Shadow you get the story of Aman and Shadow, but also the story of Matt and his grandfather who fight to free Aman from the refugee detention centre in England.  There are sad things that happen in the story but there are also plenty of good things that happen, like Aman finding Shadow.

This is the perfect book for anyone who likes animal stories, survival stories, and stories about people from other cultures.    Recommended for 9+         10 out of 10

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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.’

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Guest Author: Melinda Szymanik on A Winter’s Day in 1939

Today we’re joined by the wonderful Melinda Szymanik, author of the powerful new book, A Winter’s Day in 1939.  Based on her father’s experiences during World War II, A Winter’s Day in 1939 is a story of family, the harsh realities of war, and the fight for survival against the odds. Melinda has written a really interesting post for us about why and how she wrote A Winter’s Day in 1939.

Why and How I wrote A Winter’s Day in 1939

When the Soviet soldiers come and order them out, Adam and his family have no idea where they are going or if they will ever come back.  The Germans have attacked Poland and the world is at war. Boarding a cattle train Adam and his family embark on a journey that will cover thousands of miles and several years, and change all their lives forever. And mine too. Because Adam’s story, the story told in my new novel A Winter’s Day in 1939, is very much my Dad’s story.

I often heard fragments of this story from my dad when I was growing up.  It was shocking, and sad, and amazing.  My Dad’s family was forced out of their home and taken to a labour camp in Russia. It was freezing cold, and many people died from disease or starvation. Even when the Soviets finally let them go, they spent weeks travelling around the USSR , were made to work on Soviet farms and were still hungry and often sick, with no idea of where they might end up next.  As a child growing up in a peaceful place like New Zealand it was hard to imagine the real dangers and terrible conditions my father experienced.

I didn’t get to know the full story until I was grown up with children of my own and was regularly writing stories for children.  I wrote a short story, also called A Winter’s Day in 1939, based on a single event I knew fairly well  from my Dad‘s childhood – when Soviet Soldiers first come to order them off their farm, the only home my father had known up till that point in his life. The story was published in The Australian School Magazine.  I showed the short story to the publishers Scholastic who liked it too. They wondered if I could turn it in to a novel.  This was a chance to tell my father’s story. By now I knew it was an important story that should be shared

Luckily my Dad had made notes about his life during World War Two; about twenty pages all typed up.  However I know people’s real lives don’t always fit into the framework of a novel and I knew I would have to emphasize some things and maybe leave other things out.

I read and researched to add the right details to the story. And asked my parents lots of questions. How cold was it in Poland in January 1940? Who or what were the NKVD? What were the trains like? What are the symptoms of typhoid? How do you make your own skis? Some information was hard to find. Some of the places that existed in the 1940s aren’t there anymore. And people didn’t keep records about how many people were taken to the USSR from Poland or what happened to particular individuals. But what I wanted to give readers most of all was a sense of how it felt to live that life.  So this then is the story of a twelve year old Polish boy in the USSR during World War 2 that all started on A Winter’s Day in 1939.

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A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik

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

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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

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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.

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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:

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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.



You can read Chapter One of The Assault here.

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Little Manfred by Michael Morpurgo

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.

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My email friend and hero – Mac Gregory


Today I want to tell you about my email friend Mac. Mac’s real name is Mackenzie Gregory. Mac is a very special man who is 88 and lives in Australia, in Melbourne. Have you been there? Do you know anyone who lives there?

Mac survived the sinking of the H.M.A.S. Canberra. He was the Officer of the Watch when the Japanese attacked. That means he was in charge of the ship. The Captain was sleeping (remember it was the middle of the night). Mac was only 18. What a huge responsibility! In the photo above he is with some other survivors. He is in the middle of the photo, with the binoculars he was wearing when the Japanese attacked.

Anyway, when I was researching for The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound, I had some questions. I didn’t know who to ask for help. Then I discovered Mac’s website on the Internet. His website is all about the sea and warships, and from reading his website I learned that he had been a survivor of the sinking of H.M.A.S. Canberra, the ship I was researching and writing about. He had dedicated his website to his Canberra shipmates. I was very impressed with Mac’s website and I wanted to write to him but it took me a few days to get brave enough to send him an email. I am so glad I did.

Mac answered my questions and gave me lots of handy hints. Here is the first hint he gave me:

Sailors live in ships, not on them.

 He said that people live in houses, and sailors live in ships. Now that makes sense doesn’t it? What do you think?

Anyway, when I was writing The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound and the sequel The Lucky Ship, I sent Mac dozens of questions and he was kind enough to reply to all of them. We told each other lots about our lives too and became good friends. Mac is one of my heroes. I respect him heaps. I think everyone needs heroes. Who are your heroes?

Last year my family and I went to Melbourne and met Mac and his wife Denise.  I think I’ll tell you a bit about Melbourne one day.  I am normally a bit scared of big cities because my town is so small it doesn’t even have any traffic lights but I loved Melbourne. In this photo that I took, Mac is wearing the same binoculars.  They are a piece of history. Have you ever thought about things being pieces of history? I do, often.

These are some reasons that Mac is one of my heroes:

  • Mac was brave in the war.
  • Mac was a leader in the war.
  • Mac has an amazing website about the sea and about naval history.
  • Mac helps lots of people find out about people in their family who died in the war.
  • Mac really cares about people and wants to help them.
  • Mac keeps his brain working even though he is old. He has recently published three books about his amazing life. He is doing some very tricky University work to share his knowledge too.
  • Mac cares about peace and about respect.
  • Mac is kind and courteous (Hey – I hope you know the meaning of that word!)

Here’s one more photo of Mac, from when he was the leader of the Melbourne A.N.Z.A.C. parade in 2009. What an honour, and one I think Mac really deserved.

 Here is a link to Mac’s website.   

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Savo Island.

My post tomorrow will be sad and respectful.

Ka kite opopo (see you tomorrow).

From Sandy Nelson in Twizel, land of tussock and mountains.

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About My Book

Hi again Christchurch and other kids.

We’re back at school in Twizel and I’m sure you are too! My class is busy preparing Science Fair projects. Wow we have been busy! What have you been doing?

Anyway, today I thought I’d tell you a bit about my book. Please blog and tell me if you have read it, or if you think you might like to read it …


The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound took me about one year part-time to write and a lot longer to edit and make good enough for readers. It was published by the wonderful team at Harper Collins in 2010.

It’s a ghost story and a war story and a story about the importance of peace and friends and family all mixed into one. I wrote it for boys who are about 10-14 years old but girls like it just as much and older kids and adults do too. It’s one of those books that’s okay for lots of people.

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound is a fictional story about an 11-year-old New Zealand boy named Paddy, but part of it is about a terrible night in World War Two at a place that was named Savo Sound but is now called Iron Bottom Sound (can you guess why?). That battle happened in August, so Harper Collins released my book in August, and now it’s August again when I am Star Author, so I think that’s kind-of cool.  The night of 8-9 August will be the anniversary of the 1942 battle, which was named ‘The Battle of Savo Island.’  I will post that day and it will be a sad post. Can you work out how many years ago the battle was?  2011 – 1942 = ?  or you could turn it around: 1942 + ? = 2011  – Hey, you can tell I am a school teacher can’t you?

Anyway, the ship central to my story was the largest ship Australia lost in the war, H.M.A.S. Canberra.  Three American ships were sunk that night too. The Japanese were the clever ones on that wet dark night.

So … my story has:

1. A New Zealand boy with N.Z. friends and family

2. A stretch of deep water in the Pacific Ocean

3. Australian and American sailors fighting for peace and for their lives

4. A convoy of clever Japanese who sneak up and attack in the dead of night.

It’s quite an international story!

All of the history parts in my story are true – even the bit about someone getting shot in the bum (oops – I mean bottom) and about survivors being given frozen oranges (have you ever tried to eat a frozen orange?)

Ka kite ano – see you soon

From Sandy Nelson – your Star Author who lives in the land of tussocks and snowy mountains

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10 / 10 from Zac for my book!

Hi there Christchurch kids and other kids who also read this blog!
You kids who live in Shaky Town are very brave. I hope reading this blog and reading lots of wonderful books helps you escape to nice places in your minds.
My name is Sandy Nelson. As I wrote in my first post, I am honoured to be invited to be the Star Author for August, particularly because I have only had one book published and it didn’t win any awards (boo-hoo) and it seems as if all the other Star Authors have great long lists of published titles and awards. So I feel very humbled.

So, thanks Zac for choosing me. It must be because you liked my book so much. I was very excited when you gave it 10 out of 10 (I had a very big smile for days!)
And even though my book didn’t get any awards, it was nominated for the N.Z. Post Awards, and lots of reviewers and other writers, and most importantly young people, have said they really liked it. My editor, Kate Stone, at Harper Collins, says that’s what is the most important.


As a new writer, I just love those words ‘My Book.’ I think they sound fantastic!

For those who haven’t read THE GHOSTS OF IRON BOTTOM SOUND yet, I’ll tell you a bit about it in my next post.

Ka kite ano – and hey, I hope you have had a good start to Term Three.
From your newest Star Author, Sandy Nelson

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My Top 5 War Stories

  1. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
  2. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
  3. Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French
  4. The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson
  5. 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?

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The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson.

Paddy, a boy living in New Zealand, is intrigued by a library book about the sunken warships of the World War Two battles at Guadalcanal, and horrified that he can hear voices in his head.  He is so absorbed in the book that he is lucky not to have been hit by a car whilst crossing the road.  His parents take the book off him.  Still, he can hear the ghostly men…talking to him… He comes to realise that the voices are Australian, like his grandfather, who served in HMAS Canberra, an Australian ship that sunk in the war. Could they have died on that ship, while his grandfather survived? How can he, Paddy, help them rest?

My favourite character was probably the grandfather, because of his tale in the book.  Part of the book is his story, and I think that he was very brave.  The grandfather is only a fictional character, of course, but the war and sunken ships are only too real. I loved the description- it made me feel as if I was there, hearing the ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound, too.  I thought that this book was best for both boys and girls, but others might think that it’s just for boys. I liked how the book didn’t go on for ages, nor get to the point too quickly.  I think that Sandy Nelson is one of my favourite New Zealand authors.  This book is best for children from about 9 to 13, and I give it an 8 out of 10.


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A Long Walk To Water

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.

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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Book

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.

By Henry

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The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson

Cover imageWhat would you do if the ghosts of World War Two were stuck inside your head and wouldn’t leave you alone?  Paddy is an ordinary New Zealand kid who becomes obsessed with a book that he gets from the library about the wrecks of warships sunk in World War Two at Guadalcanal.  This book is special – the ghosts of men who were killed in these battles are trapped inside and they want everyone to remember why they died.  The ghosts call out to Paddy but only he can hear their voices.  Whose voices are they and why are they reaching out to him?  The ghosts tell him he has to ask his grandfather about the battle at Guadalcanal, but his grandfather has never talked about the war so how will Paddy get him to tell him his story?

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound is a fantastic and unique book about the horrors of war and how it affects people.  The ghosts of the war talking to Paddy is a really interesting way to tell the story and Sandy Nelson makes you really care about what happens to the characters.  This is now one of my favourite war stories.    10 out of 10

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Dreams of Warriors by Susan Brocker

Cover imageDreams 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.

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Michael Morpurgo has An Elephant in the Garden

Michael Morpurgo is one of my favourite authors.  I’ve read nearly all of his books and when a new one comes out I rush out to get it.  He is a fantastic storyteller and has written hundreds of stories about all sorts of things including World War 1 and 2, the legends of King Arthur, sailing around the world, cats on the Titanic, and whales swimming up the river Thames in London.  His stories draw you in and you really care about his characters, whether they are humans or animals.

Michael Morpurgo’s latest book is called An Elephant in the Garden and if I had to tell you what it’s about in one sentence I’d say it’s a story of survival.  Elizabeth, now an old woman, tells Karl and his mother of her escape from Dresden, in Germany, when it was bombed during World War 2.  They escape thanks to the elephant from her mother’s zoo who has been living in their garden.  Their journey is tough through the snow-covered landscape, especially with an elephant.  Will they make it to safety?  You’ll have to read this fantastic book to find out.

If you like books set during war-time, books about animals, or survival stories then this book is for you.  10 out of 10.  For readers 9+.

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Remember the fallen on ANZAC Day

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.

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