Rasmussen, E. Kent. World War I for Kids: A History with 21 Activities
April 1st 2014
by Chicago Review Press
Copy received from the publisher
Like previous books in this series (Frederick Douglas for Kids; Rightfully Ours) more books listed at Chicago Review Press), this is an extremely well researched volume with outstanding illustrations. A wide variety of topics are covered, including some I have not really seen in other books, such as an in-depth description of trenches and trench warfare, complete with a photograph of higher ups with furniture in their trench! I can see this being an extremely useful book when reading any novel set during World War I, because just about any topic that would come up in a fiction book is addressed here. I particularly liked the extensive coverage of a variety of animals that were used during the war, as well as an explanation of why and these animals were used. In addition to the more commonly found topics, such as the causes of war and the key players, this contained information about the home front, getting supplies to the troops, the role of women both in factories and in the service, and various writers who fought and contributed to the cannon of war literature. In fact, the only two subjects that I expected to find and did not were an in-depth description of uniforms and gear, understandable since this is not a book about a single country and the topic is touched upon lightly, and a mention of Rudyard Kipling, for which I was looking only so that I could pair this book with Kipling's Choice (and certainly not an essential inclusion).
Strengths: This is an exceptional resource for researching World War I, and a good book for readers who are very interested in the minutiae of the war. The inclusion of accompanying activities would make this a particularly useful volume for teachers looking to incorporate such activities into their lessons. This would be an essential purchase for most public libraries.
Weaknesses: The horizontal format (8.5 x 10.9 x 0.4 inches) makes this somewhat awkward to read and to shelve, and only the most interested students will read this in its entirety for pleasure, since it has so much information.
Hartnett, Sonya. The Silver Donkey.
11 February 2014, Candlewick (originally 2004)
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there
and Coco find a blind soldier in the forest near their home in France.
He has run off from the fighting and is clearly shell shocked. The girls
take him food and supplies, glad that they have a secret from their
annoying older brother, Pascal. Lieutenant Shepard just wants to get
back across the channel to his home in England to be with his younger
brother, who is dying and asking for him. Marcelle tries to come up with
a plan to get Shepard home, but cannot, even though she and Coco are
good about bringing him food, and listening to the stories he tells that
revolve around a small silver goodluck charm of a donkey. Eventually,
Pascal is brought in on the secret, and he enlists a lame man from the
town, Fabrice, to help get Shepard a boat across the channel. The girls
are glad that Shepard will get home, but sad that they no longer can
care for him.
Strengths: When I read this originally in 2007,
I commented that adults would love it, and since this has been
reprinted numerous times while so many titles go out of print, this must
be true. This would be a good war book for younger readers, since there
are some good details about the fighting in France, but not too many
gruesome details. I like the formatting of the new edition-- the pages
of stories have a border on them, and the font is a good sized and
nicely spaced on the page. Did love the previous green cloth binding
with just the silver donkey on the cover, though!
I can understand why two of Shepard's stories are included-- one is
about a donkey helping out on the battlefield, moving wounded soldiers,
and one is about his brother. I don't understand why he tells the girls
the story of Jesus' birth or Noah's Ark. I love this comment about
Pascal and wonder why the author didn't take it to heart while writing
the book: "Pascal tried to be polite, but he was quite disappointed with
that story. He had hoped the soldier would tell them riveting
adventures from the war, not stories about donkeys who had conversations
with the sky." (page 127)