Tag Archives: World War I

Some more on WWI

23 Oct

I am still reading  The War That Ended Peace,  but that is not the only book related to World War I I’ve read recently. Two newish picture books feature different aspects of “the war to end all wars”.

Unknown

Harlem Hellfighters tells the story of black Americans from New York who picked up brass instruments—under the leadership of famed bandleader and lieutenant James Reese Europe—to take the musical sound of Harlem into the heart of war. J. Patrick Lewis’ poems are generally short snapshots and are complimented by Gary Kelley’s sepia toned illustrations. Some background knowledge of the war would be helpful, though not necessary. Includes an introduction, bibliography and artist’s notes.

Unknown-1

Shooting at the Stars: the Christmas Truce of 1914, by John Hendrix, is a fictionalized account of the eponymous event. I do so love using the word eponymous. In a letter home to his mother, he describes how, despite fierce fighting earlier from both sides, Allied and German soldiers ceased firing and came together on the battlefield to celebrate the holiday.This is a compassionate book with lovely illustrations. Includes an author’s note, glossary, bibliography and index.

Vimy

10 Aug

The highlight of my trip to Ottawa was visiting the Canadian War Museum. It  presents Canada’s military past and how it shaped the country.The exhibits explain Canada’s rich military history from earliest times to the present, featuring the experiences of people on the battlefields and at home.

It was extremely well done and made me cry more than once.

The weekend I was there marked the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, so being there was especially poignant. I was especially touched by the display of the Vimy War Memorial.

IMG_1647  IMG_1650

If you don’t know much about the Vimy War Memorial, I recommend reading The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart, who happens to be one of my favorite Canadian authors for adults.

Unknown-1

The book was originally published in 2001, but really captures the passion and heartbreak of war and the power of art to transform.

From the publisher: Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, The Stone Carvers weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward’s ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.

If you’ve never read anything by Jane Urquhart, I highly recommend that you do. She is a beautiful writer.

Home from Holidays part 1

7 Aug

IMG_1656

I’m home from my trip to Canada. My book tally was low: one book finished one purchased and one started.

On the way to Canada, I read Dangerous by Shannon Hale.

Unknown

Well written and faced paced,  Dangerous has a smart female heroine. I took this one on the plane to Canada and finished it before we landed in Toronto. I sort of tough my sister, who loves Shannon Hale’s previous books, might want to read it.  Once I was into the book, I knew my sister wouldn’t like it. The book has Hale’s good writing, but it is the setting that would turn her off. If this book didn’t have Hale’s name on the from, I probably wouldn’t have read it either.

While in Ottawa, the world marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. We toured the Canadian War Museum, which is amazing. I cried more than once. I’ll write more on this later. The only book I bought was  The War that Ended Peace  by Margaret MacMillan.

Unknown-1

I read her previous book, Paris 1919, which death with the Paris Peace conference that followed World War 1, which was eminently readable. I am really looking forward to this one.

On the plane ride home, I started  The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. This was a Christmas gift from my sister and I am finally getting to it. I am about a quarter in and it is not what I expected from the cover, but I am hooked.

I got home late last night, so I haven;t picked up the girls yet. I am very excited to see them. I hope they forgive me.

Women at War

28 Jun

WWI changed society in a myriad of ways, one of which was the role of women. This video, And We Knew How to Dance: Women in WWI

and_we_knew_how_to_dance

by the National Film Board of Canada  shows how Canadian women aided the war effort. It’s World War I, and many of the country’s men have gone into battle. Twelve Canadian women, aged 86 to 101, recall their entry into what had been a male world of munitions factories and farm labour. Their commitment and determination helped lead the way to postwar social changes for women.

And this book,

Unknown

 

tells the story of approximately 100 nurses who were captured during the Japanese attack on the Philippines, which happened only 9 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mary Cronk Farrell’s Pure Grit is the story of how those nurses not only survived, but also how they continued to care for the sick and wounded with dwindling medical supplies and food. Over the course of their three years in captivity, the nurses lost weight because of the starvation-level rations they were given. some developed beriberi, others dengue fever and/or bouts of malaria and tuberculosis. Cronk uses interviews and lots of primary source material to create a highly readable and fascinating book that sheds light on an aspect of war that is still rather unknown.

Backmatter includes a glossary, list of nurses, timeline, endnotes, bibliography, websites, and an index.

Cronk also provides a teacher’s guide on  her website.

This is an excellent addition to any library or classroom in which World War 2 is taught.

 

 

The War at Home

27 Jun

Unknown

Tomorrow we mark the event that set the dominoes of the First World War in motion: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

In John Boyne’s Stay Where You Are & Then You Leave,  we see the effects of war throughout the eyes of you Alfie Summerfield. He’s only 5 at the beginning of the book and 9 by the end, but John Boyne really captures how a boy of that age would view and understand the world and the crazy event going on around him. I love that he thins at 21 he’ll need glasses to read and will want to go to bed early because he’s so tired.

This is the best of what historical fiction should be: details woven into the fabric of the story so naturally we don’t even realize that they are historical facts. We get a real glimpse of what life was like for people left at home and the consequences the war had on society. We learn about shortages, deportations, conscientious objectors, white feathers and shell shock.

Alfie’s father went off to war. At first the letters were funny, then serious, then confused. Then they stopped. Alfie’s mother tells him his dad is on a secret mission, but Alfie thinks his dad is dead. While working as a shoeshine big, Alfie comes across some information that set him on a secret mission of his own to rescue his dad.

This book is a real gem. It was more like Michael Morpurgo’s  War Horse than Boyne’s most famous book,  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  It would be an excellent novel to read as kids learn about WWI.

Alas, I couldn’t help but do the math. Alfie  is 9 in 1918. That means he’ll be 30 in 1939 when the next World war breaks out. It broke my heart to think about that. The fact that I care is a testament to the quality of the writing that created the character of Alfie.

WWI @100

25 Jun

On Saturday we mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the trigger that set off the maneuvering that became the First World War. Or the Great War, as they called it. They didn’t know then that they were supposed to number them. The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful collection of legacies of WWI that you can see here. It is well worth looking at.

When I go to Canada later this summer, we will visit Ottawa and I am very excited to see the Canadian War Museum. I haven’t been to Ottawa since our grade 10 trip in 1980, and there are a number of museum that have been built in the decades since my last visit there.

There are a number of WWI related books out now, and no doubt, some more to come over the next four years. I hope to tell you about many of them. Today’s book is the story of a war dog.

Unknown

Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog is written by Anne Bausum and is published by National Geographic.

From the Publisher: Stubby, the stump-tailed terrier, worked behind enemy lines, and gained military honors along the way. Private Robert Conroy casually adopted the orphan pup while attending basic training on the campus of Yale University in 1917. The Connecticut volunteer never imagined that his stray dog would become a war hero. He just liked the little guy. When Conroy’s unit shipped out for France, he smuggled his new friend aboard. By the time Stubby encountered Conroy’s commanding officer, the dog had perfected his right-paw salute. Charmed, the CO awarded Stubby mascot status and sent him along with Conroy’s unit to the Western Front. Stubby’s brave deeds earned him a place in history and in the Smithsonian Institution where his stuffed body can still be seen. Almost 100 years later, Stubby’s great deeds and brave heart make him an animal hero to fall in love with and treasure all over again.

The book is well researched and full of photos and quotes. Backmatter includes an afterword, timeline, research notes, bibliography, resource guide, citations, and index. It would be an excellent means of introducing kids to the details of WWI, which many of them know very little about.

Soldier Dog by Sam Angus

12 Nov

Unknown

I mentioned this book in my post yesterday. I picked it up almost by accident when I was at the library a few days ago. It was displayed on the new book shelf. I even considered not checking  it out because it seemed to be too much of an echo of  War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. It is reminiscent of the book, don;t get me wrong, but it is certainly worth reading, too.

Stanley’s older brother has gone to fight in the Great War and his father is prone to sudden rages after the death of his wife. Stanley devotes himself to taking care of the family’s greyhound and puppies. One morning Stanley wakes to find the puppies gone. Determined to find his brother, Stanley runs away to join an increasingly desperate army. Assigned to the experimental War Dog School, Stanley is given a problematic Great Dane named Bones to train. Against all odds, the pair excels, and Stanley is sent to France.

If you enjoyed War Horse, you will enjoy this book, too.

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

%d bloggers like this: