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.

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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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The lost magician by Piers Torday

If you can imagine it, it must exist. Somewhere.

Four children sent to live with someone they don’t know very well. Four children who have experienced the terror of war in London. Four children who differ in so many ways yet come together to save the world from an evil they least expected.

The lost magician by Piers Torday is an exciting and suspenseful novel which will remind you of stories from Narnia and Wonderland.

We meet the children , Evie, Larry, Simon and Patricia at the end of World War Two. They have survived the horrors of war and their parents need to find a new place to live – so they are sent to live with Professor Diana Kelly in the countryside.

As we read on, we learn that the professor is doing some very important research about a missing man and his extensive library. No one knows where he has gone or where his library vanished to.

This man, named Nicholas Crowne, had read and collected every book ever written and just like a librarian, he was the key to unlocking all of the stories and sharing them with the world.

But now with him missing, the future of the world is unknown, and it is up to the children to find a way to seek him out and understand what he knows before those who choose ignorance take the world he has so lovingly grown.

The Lost Magician by Piers Today will sweep you away into a new and amazing world. As you meet the four children you will understand how important libraries are – not only to ignite imagination but to also spark investigations, develop self awareness and inspire thoughts that you never thought possible.

A wonderful underlying message in this story is the importance of the library and the librarian. Without either of these, the world of stories – told and untold – may cease to exist.

So perhaps support your local library by borrowing a book or petition your local school to make sure students have regular library visits in their own school library. The world of the never reads is one which I am sure you will never want to see exist.

Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho

A very clever story told through pictures and limited words – Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho is an excellent addition to any classroom studying government and society.

There is a guard who follows the rules – the rules that does not allow anyone to go on the right hand side of the page.

All the characters that he meets want to go to the other side of the page but meet with his strict orders not to go against him….until a ball gets kicked over the line and the crowd no longer want to be told what to do.

Will people power overcome fear and dictatorship or will they continue to live in fear?

Can we see the different sides to the story to really understand where the different characters are coming from and how they feel about the other side of the page?

You will enjoy reading this book again and again, looking at the different characters that live on the pages and seeing how they react to the different situations presented to them as the story progresses.

It is a great book to accompanying any unit of work about government and society and will really help you to reflect on how you see the rules you live under.

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Don't Cross the Line!

So what else can you do with this book?

Read through story

  • What is power?
  • How is power shared in a democracy? How is power shared in other forms of government? Explore different types of government that exist or have existed.
  • How does power change?
  • What is a dictatorship?
  • Can people power overthrow a dictator?

Literacy

  • Rewrite this story using either first or third person – explore the difference between telling this story from two different perspectives
  • Could you add more speech bubbles to this story?
  • Could you take away the speech bubbles and write a story instead? How does this change the idea and tone of the story?

Follow on with books that link in with government – we are going to look at Once by Morris Gleitzman so watch this space!

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 Don't Cross the Line!

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