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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Great War

Title: The Great War
Genre: Short Stories
Book Authors: David Almond, John Boyne, Tracy Chevalier, Ursula Dubosarsky, Timothee de Fombelle, Adele Geras, A.L. Kenedy, Tanya Lee Stone, Michael Morpurgo, Marcus Sedgwick, Sheena Wilkinson
Illustrator: Jim Kay
Originally Published: March 2013
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7554-7
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program

The Story

The Great WarFrom the back of the book:

In a powerful collection masterfully illustrated by Jim Kay, eleven internationally acclaimed fiction writers draw on historical objects to bring World War I to life.

A toy soldier. A butter dish. A compass. Mundane objects, but in the hands of the remarkable authors in this collection, these and other artifacts connected to the First World War provide a deep look into the human experience of the war. The objects of war are skillfully woven into the fabric of these fictional stories in this unique anthology that provides young readers with a personal window into the Great War and the people affected by it. Illustrated throughout by the award-winning Jim Kay, the collection also features photographs of the inspirational objects with accounts of their histories and the authors’ reasons for selecting them.

The Response

I requested this from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. I really like this program, because it introduces me to books that I never would’ve otherwise heard of. Like this one, which I didn’t have on my radar at all, but absolutely enjoyed.

This book had a few amazing things going for it. It’s got a great selection of authors involved with it, the idea of creating a collection of stories that are all based around real-life objects from WWI is so super cool, and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. This collection of short stories spoke to me a lot more than most that I’ve read.

There are eleven short stories in this collection, all of which are about or aimed children or teens. In some cases the war is still going on, in others the war happened decades ago and the protagonists are learning about it. Each shows how – whether it takes place during the war or later – war can have a great effect on every person’s lives. The only author who I had been familiar with ahead of time was Tracy Chevalier, but I’ve now got a handful of authors I’m going to be keeping my eyes peeled for.

The eleven stories included are:

  • Our Jacko by Michael Morpurgo. Inspired by a Brodie helmet
  • Another Kind of Missing by A.L. Kennedy. Inspired by a compass
  • Don’t Call it Glory by Marcus Sedgwick. Inspired by a nose of a Zeppelin bomb
  • The Country you called Home by John Boyne. Inspired by a recruitment poster
  • When They Were Needed Most by Tracy Chevalier. Inspired by a Princess Mary’s gift fund box
  • A World that has no War in it by David Almond. Inspired by a soldier’s writing case
  • A Harlem Hellfighter and his Horn by Tanya Lee Stone. Inspired by sheet music
  • Maud’s Story by Adele Geras. Inspired by a war-time butter dish
  • Captain Rosalie by Timothy de Fombelle. Inspired by a Victoria Cross
  • Each Slow Dusk by Sheena Wilkinson. Inspired by school magazines
  • Little Wars by Ursula Dubosarsky. Inspired by a French toy soldier.

The ones that personally spoke to me the best were Kennedy’s Another Kind of Missing and de Fombelle’s Captain Rosalie. I found these two both so absolutely moving and heartbreaking. Especially Another Kind of Missing, which left me completely sobbing. There’s something about the innocence of childhood and these characters not being able to always grasp what is really going on or how things have changed because of the war… but also the undying love and devotion…

The Bottom Line

Highly recommended. I’ll be keeping this one on my shelf.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:08 am August 14, 2015.
Category: Short Stories
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  • Kailana

    Oh. This sounds very right for me!