Transcending its time and period, this moving and lyrical story, beautifully illustrated, explores the fear and hope of children in time of war.
I am just a child. How can I be at war?
It’s 1918, and war is everywhere. John’s father is fighting in the trenches far away in France, while his mother works in a menacing munitions factory just along the road. His teacher says that John is fighting, too, that he is at war with enemy children in Germany. One day, in the wild woods outside town, John has an impossible moment: a dreamlike meeting with a German boy named Jan. John catches a glimpse of a better world, in which children like Jan and himself can one day scatter the seeds of peace. David Almond brings his ineffable sensibility to a poignant tale of the effects of war on children, interwoven with David Litchfield’s gorgeous black-and-white illustrations.
Out May 2020
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
I often read and think about wartime, especially because I had a father/grandfathers who were veterans. I’ve heard many stories about the two wars, WWI and WWII, from family who were somehow touched by war either directly or indirectly, but I’ve never really thought of what a child who lived during this time would have thought or gone through.
This book opens my eyes to a new perspective through incredible writing accompanied by beautiful artwork. A sobering story to say the least. The main character, John, barely remembers his father’s face since war has been dragging on for so long. His mother works in a factory that builds bombs and it’s dangerous work. John is left to himself a lot where he imagines befriending a German boy his age and what they’d talk about. He dreams of his father coming home and his mother no longer needing to work where she is working, but is home safe. He dreams of peace and really doesn’t understand why he is suffering for a war he didn’t start or want. His sadness overwhelms the pages as you turn them.
This story was a commemoration to the hundred-year anniversary to the end of WWI. Although people may find this a difficult and bleak story to read, it should be read over and over again, studied in schools so that history never repeats itself. Many suffered during both wars and many gave their lives so we could live peacefully. We must never forget this and neither should our children. There are reasons why our lives are as they are now… it’s because others gave theirs defending a way of life, a way of thinking, and for peace.