by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Historical fiction, war, physical and mental scars, family, ages 12+
From a young age, Michael was both fascinated by and afraid of his grandfather. Grandpa’s ship was torpedoed during the Second World War, leaving him with terrible burns. Every time he came to stay, Michael was warned by his mother that he must not stare, he must not make too much noise, he must not ask Grandpa any questions about his past. As he grows older, Michael stays with his grandfather during the summer holidays and learns the story behind Grandpa’s injuries, finally getting to know the real man behind the solemn figure from his childhood. Michael can see beyond the burns, and this gives him the power to begin healing scars that have divided his family for so long.
by Carolyn Meyer
Middle grade, World War I, historical fiction, Russia
Thirteen-year-old Anastasia is the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II, ruler of Russia. Anastasia is used to a life of luxury; her major concerns are how to get out of her detested schoolwork to play in the snow, go ice-skating, or have picnics. She wears diamonds and rubies, and every morning her mother tells her which matching outfit she and her three sisters shall wear that day. It's a fairy tale life -- until everything changes with the outbreak of war between Russia and Germany. As Russia enters WWI, hunger and poverty grows among the peasants, and soon they are not pleased with their ruler. While the czar is trying win a war and save their country, the country is turning on the royal family. When her father and the rest of the family are imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, suddenly Anastasia understands what this war is costing the people. In the pages of her diary, Anastasia chronicles the wealth and luxury of her royal days, as well as the fall from power, and her uncertain fate.
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
YA, World War II, historical fiction
Reviewed by my good friend and colleague, Kathy Taber, with Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis.
“War usually tears families apart and causes heartache, but for Ada, World War II saved her life. Born with a club foot, Ada suffered abuse and ridicule. When she and he bother were sent to the countryside to wait out the war, Ada had to learn to deal with her new life, including how to receive uncondiioal love. Ada’s stoy is a moving and poignant tale of acceptace and how change can be rewarding.
PS. Kim Bradley was in my writer’s group in Indy! Go Kim!