Monday, April 21, 2014


18527219Rasmussen, 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.

18166972Hartnett, Sonya. The Silver Donkey.
11 February 2014, Candlewick (originally 2004)
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there

Marcelle 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!
Weaknesses: 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)


  1. What interesting selections! I had heard of the Silver Donkey and have added it to my future read list. I know several kids who would love the World War 1 book. Thanks for featuring both this week.

  2. The Silver Donkey sounds really interesting. I've always been fascinated by WWI, maybe because it's not covered as in debt as the second WW. I also liked your review of WWI for kids, which I might use with my own kids when we study WWI.

  3. Anonymous7:10 PM EDT

    This is funny I am reading this today because my mom just said to me today that if I really want to understand World War II (I really enjoy reading about WWII), I should understand WWI more. I am getting these books! :)