War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield.

Dear Jan, I am a boy like you. I am not at war with you. You are, not at war with me. Your friend, Jan. 

It’s 1918 in England and the war is raging. John is a young boy who lives with his mother – who works in the biggest ammunition factory in the world, and wonders about his father who he can’t remember all that well, who is away fighting in the trenches in France.

John knows in his heart that war is wrong but nearly all the adults around him tell him that he must engage in the fighting by disliking anything about the enemy.

They tell him that this war could go on forever.

He writes to the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury asking for them to tell him when it will be over.

No answer.

The concept of forever is enormous for anyone let alone a young child. In 1918 ‘forever’ would have felt never ending as communication was so much slower and children were very sheltered from what they could and could not hear.

Jan cares for his mother who doesn’t know why she is at war. He wonders why no one stands up and cares about the foreverness of the situation.

He becomes friends with a man who everyone else thinks is crazy – but all Uncle Gordon wants to do is to help people to realise that not every German person is evil.

He meets a young German boy in the forest and tells him that he is not at war with him.

Jan is strong and determined yet shows the weaknesses of any young child. He shows that if we can see the world through eyes of understanding that perhaps these wars could never happen again – if we just see each other as equal.

The simple black and white illustrations allow younger readers to understand more about the concepts of war, love, loss and government in this book. The illustrations also show both the stark reality of war – the loneliness and desolation – and the peacefulness of the world when war is over.

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield is a book for children over the age of ten to read as the concept of war, although told in story form is still heavy and saddening. We need children to be aware of what happened but we also need to be able to discuss the different viewpoints.

This book would also be an excellent book to read aloud in the classroom. It would ignite many conversations and debates and possible plans for the future.

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield.

Buy here today:

War is Over

Lesson ideas here: https://www.hachetteschools.co.uk/blog/2018/11/04/the-big-topic-wwi-and-wwii/

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Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh

Alfred had fought in the Great war, but his bravery was not part of the nation’s remembering. He was one of the forgotten soldiers.

A powerful picture book for children aged 7+, Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh highlights the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from WWI.

Alfred lived where he liked to live, outside, under the stars, beneath gum trees or by the fire. He lived free and happy as a gardener and labourer, far from home. When he signed up for war not only did he experience the horror of war but also the horror of returning home without recognition for what he did to save Australia.

Many men and women returned from war, scarred from the awful experience they had and many did not receive the support they should have – but to be forgotten would have added more insult to the injuries he sustained.

Indigenous Australians have had many injustices done to them since 1788

Rachel Bin Salleh has written a beautiful story and it really pulls at the heart strings. Children will have so many questions to ask and this is a wonderful thing. We talked about war and we talked about indigenous Australians. We talked about many things I didn’t think younger children would want to listen to, but they did because they saw an injustice in the world.

Samantha Fry’s illustrations add more emotion to each page of the story, giving more meaning to who Alfred was and what he did for Australia.

Creating stories that are told through picture like this are so important and we need to make more of them so that the mistakes of history are not created again and again.

What else can you do?

  •  Talk about war – be honest without too many details. Talk about wars that have been and wars that are still raging. Explore why they start and how they finish.
  • Talk about indigenous people of Australia, what happened to them and why. Look at the indigenous language map of Australia to see where different tribes lived and where some still live today.
  • Why were the indigenous people forgotten about?
  • Look at the different colours used on each page and how those colours make you feel.

BUY HERE – click on book below.

Alfred's War