Did you know that 100 years ago today was the start of the First World War? World War One (WWI), the First World War or the Great War began on 28th July 1914 and lasted until 11th November 1918. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, but there’s few children’s and young adult books set during it (you’ll find much more about WWII). The centenary has meant that a whole host of children’s books surrounding WWI were published this year, so here’s a selection that I’ve come across, some read, some just on my wishlist.
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer, set in a 1960s boarding school until young Charlotte Makepeace slips back in time to 1918, where everyone starts to call her Clare.
Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne, about Alfie Summerfield, just five years old when World War I broke out. His young father, Georgie, promised he wouldn’t enlist voluntarily, only to break his promise the very next day, walking into the house in full uniform. Stay Where You Are and Then Leave is beautifully written and does not shy away from the harshness of wartime and the effect the war had on the entire country. I loved it and reviewed it last year.
Poppy by Mary Hooper, about a young girl whose life is about to be thrown dramatically off course. Poppy is fifteen, beautiful and clever, but society has already carved out her destiny. There’s no question of her attending the grammar school – it’s too expensive and unsuitable for a girl. Instead, Poppy will become a servant at the big house.
Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens, in which Rose’s granddad takes her on a trip to Ypres, Belgium to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War. When she goes up to her room that night, she hears the sound of marching feet and glimpses from her window a young soldier on his way to the front line…
Remembrance by Theresa Breslin, where a group of teenagers from two families meet for a picnic, but the war across the Channel is soon to tear them away from such youthful pleasures.
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo is one you’ve all heard of: the story of Joey, a thoroughbred horse, and how he is forced into the thick of the harrowing, poorly-led battles of the First World War.
War Girls: A Collection of First World War Stories Through the Eyes of Young Women by Various is a collection of short stories explores how the First World War changed and shaped the lives of women forever, which I read and reviewed this year. I also interviewed Sally Nicholls about her story, Going Spare.
The Great War: Stories Inspired by Objects from the First World War by Various is a collection of stories, each inspired by a different object from the First World War. Each object illuminates an aspect of life during the war, and each story reminds us of the millions of individual lives that were changed forever by the fighting. It’s beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay.
Stories of World War One edited by Tony Bradman is a collection of short stories chronicles the events of World War One – imagining the conflicts and emotions of those people caught up in the war and its aftermath.
Ellen’s People by Dennis Hamley begins at the start of the war. When recruiting officers come to her village and her brother enlists, Ellen knows that her life will never be the same again. She longs for something more than her life as a housemaid. When her brother returns home after losing a leg, through helping him, she realises she wants to be a nurse at the front.
I will have missed some, so suggest more in the comments below! Tony Bradman also wrote a similar article for the Guardian earlier this month.