When I have the choice between reading another book or reviewing the one I have just read, I usually choose to read another one. As much as I adore shouting about books on my blog, reading is, after all, my first love!
Therefore, I have decided to do some mini-review posts to tell you about some other books which I have read and think you might enjoy.
The mini-reviews this time are all themed around Remembrance, as we take the time this Sunday and Monday to remember those who have protected their country through going to war.
Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer
Lily has lots of worries. She’s struggling to compete in her fell-running races and, worse, she’s losing her gran to Alzheimer’s. But then she discovers her great-great-grandfather’s diaries from the First World War. Could his incredible story of bravery help her reconnect with her gran and even give her the inspiration she needs to push through and win?
A beautifully-written book which follows Lily as she faces one of the toughest challenges of her life, losing her beloved grandmother to Alzheimer’s. Not to mention that she has been losing races and her confidence with each loss. On a visit to her grandparents’ home, she finds her great-great-grandfather’s diaries from the First World War and discovers that he was a fell-runner like her. Not only did he win the local race, but he ran for his country, sending messages across foreign battlefields and saving lives.
I thought that this story was perfectly balanced between the challenges that Lily is facing in her own life and the insight into how her great-great-grandfather and his family suffered during the war. I devoured it in no time at all, with the pages seeming to fly past as I was drawn in to Lily’s life and her great-great-grandfather, Ernest’s as he goes to war.
Poppy Field by Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman
A new picture-book classic celebrating the poppy’s history, from two legends of children’s literature.
Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy.
In Flanders’ fields, young Martens knows his family’s story, for it is as precious as the faded poem hanging in their home. From a poor girl comforting a grieving soldier, to an unexpected meeting of strangers, to a father’s tragic death many decades after treaties were signed, war has shaped Martens’s family in profound ways – it is their history as much as any nation’s.
They honour the past.
This book also includes a full-colour, illustrated afterword that explains the history that inspired the story.
Beautifully-illustrated by Michael Foreman, this is a poignant and hopeful story from Michael Morpurgo and a fitting way to remember those who have fought for peace. I loved how the story gave us a back-story for the famous poem by John Mc Crae and explained the symbol of the poppy in a way that is accessible for younger readers, while also engaging older readers. I also really liked the Afterword where some more historical context is given, as well as discussing some of the recent controversies over wearing he poppy and how they hope it can be worn simply in remembrance rather than as any kind of political statement.
We read the poem and talked about Remembrance today in school, as well as reading this book together.
Peace Lily by Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey
Thousands of nurses risked their lives on the battlefields and in the hospitals to care for the wounded during World War 1 and at least 1500 were killed either from disease, by accident or as a result of enemy action. Their names weren’t included on War Memorials because they were women. That is now changing. Peace Lily pays tribute to all those brave women who helped with the war effort and brings all four stories in the series together with an uplifting ending of a new, peaceful beginning.
This is a beautiful way to introduce children to the First World War with a gentle, rhyming text and evocative watercolour illustrations. I have since bought the entire series and read it with my class every year on Armistice Day. A firm favourite for me!
White Feather by Catherine and David MacPhail
The war is won but for Tony there is little to celebrate. His brother never returned from no man’s land and has died not as a hero but executed as a coward. Refusing to believe that his brother was a traitor, a grief stricken Tony is pushed to the edge in his dark quest to uncover the horrifying truth. A thrilling narrative of intertwining perspectives, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
This is an engaging, interesting look at an aspect of the war that is not usually discussed so much. In a very short story the authors have managed to create sympathetic characters and shine a light on some of the true horror of war. Recommended for Year 6!
See my full review here.
Time School by Nikki Young
A power cut and a series of mini disasters means friends, Jess, Nadia, Tomma and Ash barely make it to the station to catch their train to school. What they find is a far cry from the usual packed commuter train they’re expecting…
When they arrive at Hickley School, the children are surprised to find some of the buildings missing and they don’t recognise any of the other pupils, who are all dressed in a different style of uniform. The only person who takes the time to help them is Martha, despite being preoccupied by her own worries about her family being hungry and not hearing from brother, Henry whom she says is away fIghting.
The children soon realise this is no normal day and it’s not until they return home that they’re able to figure out what happened. What they don’t know is whether it was a one-off day, or if they will get to see Martha and the other pupils again. Jess hopes so. She has something she needs to tell Martha. Not knowing how or why, she feels a connection and an obligation to this girl she can’t explain.
This is a great introduction to life during the war or a companion book to other books exploring the theme in more depth.
See my full review here.
Have you read any of these books?
Would you like to read any of them after reading this post?
Could you recommend any other books about Remembrance Day?
What are you reading at the moment?
Thanks for reading!