FICTION

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War

illus. by Jim Kay. photos. 304p. Candlewick. Apr. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763675547.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5 Up—Last year marked the centennial of the start of World War I. This collection of short stories, with chapters by acclaimed British authors, including Printz winners Marcus Sedgwick and David Almond, is a timely choice. Each tale is inspired by actual artifacts from the time (an army helmet, sheet music, a compass) and focus on the British participation in the war. In the exceptional "Another Kind of Missing" by A.L. Kennedy, a young boy narrates the story of his father who has returned from war with severe facial injuries. David Almond's "A World That Has No War in It," tells the story of how writing with a soldier's pencil ended a deadly feud between two Irish families. And in Sheena Wilkinson's "Each Slow Dusk," a teenage girl realizes she will have to sacrifice her college plans in order to care for her wounded brother. Interspersed throughout are Kay's haunting illustrations and at the end of the compilation are photos and descriptions of the items that inspired the stories. As there are no living World War I veterans to tell their stories, this profound collection may be as close as some readers will get to truly understanding the emotional devastation of one of the world's bloodiest wars.
VERDICT A solid purchase for public and school libraries, particularly those needing to update their World War I collections.

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