Did you know?
This year marks 100 years after the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Wow! Has it really been that long ago?
I came across two books about World War I this year. I didn’t seek them out on purpose. But then somebody mentioned the anniversary was coming up. I started to think of all the World War I books I’ve read or studied. To be honest, there aren’t that many. I’m not even sure I’ve read All Quiet on the Western Front, which is probably one of the most famous books about World War I. I know I’ve seen the movie, and it’s been part of any discussion I’ve had when it comes to literature about the Great War.
So, here are some books that I’ve read this year…
The Button War // by Avi
MG, Historical Fiction (2018)
This book deals with some very troubling aspects of war. It centers around a group of boys who are collecting buttons from the various soldiers coming through their village in Poland. Whoever finds the BEST button will be king! (One of the boys reminded me of Jack in Lord of the Flies. The main character was more of a Ralph character.)
The book is very interesting on the historical side of things, and I would recommend this to anybody who wants to read something something a little different about World War I. While it’s written for kids, it’s definitely meant for a more mature reader as it deals with death. Yes, there’s a lot of death in this book. [4 stars]
You can read my full review here.
Silent in an Evil Time: The Brave War of Edith Cavell // by Jack Batten
Children’s Non-Fiction / Biography (2007)
Going into this book, all I really knew was Cavell’s famous quote: “Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness to anyone.” That, and I knew she was a nurse. (Oh, and I also knew about how her story ends, but I won’t spoil this if you don’t know her story.)
First, let me say that when I was a child, I had a hyper-fascination with Florence Nightingale. This is the Florence Nightingale of Belgium (even though, like Nightingale, she’s actually British) and of the First World War. And then, she’s also a spy!
Yet, such an unassuming spy who hide British and French soldiers from the German invaders. Again, this book is also for more mature readers. [4 stars]
Winnie’s Great War // by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut
MG, Historical Fiction (2018)
This book doesn’t have too much of what it was like in the trenches during the war. Rather, it focuses on Winnie, the black bear who became the mascot of the Canadian cavalry regiment as they trained for trench warfare. Since she doesn’t actually head over to France, we get to follow her to her new home at the London Zoo. And of course, we get to meet the famous Christopher Robin who calls his own bear after her: Winnie-the-Pooh. I loved this book!! [5 stars]
Full review coming soon!
The Tortoise and the Soldier // by Michael Foreman
MG, Historical Fiction (2016)
This was an interesting book. It’s about an young, aspiring newspaper reporter who comes into contact with a World War I veteran named Henry and his pet tortoise, Ali Pasha. Every Sunday, Trevor gets more of Henry’s story… About how he joined the British Navy and eventually rescued the tortoise during a battle.
The book is told through diary entries, as well as through Henry telling his story. This is one book about World War I that doesn’t focus on the Western Front!
Bonus points to this book for being about a REAL guy named Henry and his REAL tortoise, Ali Pasha! [3.5 stars]
Rilla of Ingleside // by L.M. Montgomery
YA, Coming of Age (1921)
This is one of my favourite novels, period. It’s set on the Canadian homefront during World War I. Part of what makes this book so wonderful is that it was written and published so close to the events of the war! (No historical anachronisms in this book!)
For fans of Anne of Green Gables, this is the story of Anne’s young daughter. She’s only 14 (almost 15!) at the beginning of the war. One by one, she and the ladies of the house watch brothers, sons, and friends go off to war. They’ll be home by Christmas! Of course, the war lasts a whole lot longer than that.
This book focuses on what it’s like to grow up and come of age under the shadow of wartime. Like all those who were on the Canadian homefront, Rilla must rally and find out what she can do help the war effort. This isn’t always easy, especially when she’s happens upon a poor orphaned war-baby… [5 stars!]
Have you read any of these books? Are there other WWI books that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!