Stories about war are as relevant and important as ever. They allow us to educate readers about conflicts past and present, encouraging them to empathise and reflect. Barrington Stoke have an excellent range of conflict-themed tales written by some of our most talented children’s authors, for readers of all levels of confidence.
‘Daisy and the Unknown Warrior,’ by Tony Bradman, illustrated by Tania Rex.
Things haven’t been the same since Daisy’s father failed to return from The Great War. He’s believed to be one of the millions of unknown soldiers buried in unmarked graves in the battlefields. Even though two years have passed, Daisy still misses him hugely and she knows that her mum cries at night despite putting on a brave face during the day.
When it’s announced that this Armistice Day, an unknown soldier, killed in the First World War is to be flown back to England and buried in Westminster as a reminder of all those who gave their lives, Daisy knows that she just has to go to the ceremony. She’s certain that the ‘unknown warrior’ is her father.
This story not only educates readers as to what Armistice Day is and why the ‘Unknown Warrior’ is so important, but it also explores the emotions felt by the loved ones left behind in the aftermath of war. Sadly, this is as pertinent now as after the First World War and would open up some interesting conversations about the wars happening right now. 8+
‘The Ghost Garden,’ by Emma Carroll, illustrated by Kaja Kajfež.
It’s the Summer of 1914. Fran is busy helped her father dig potatoes in the garden of Long Barrow House when her spade shatters a bone. On the very same day, Mrs Walker’s grandson Leo breaks his leg. Common sense tells her it must be a coincidence but when other strange things start to happen, Fran begins to think there may be something more to it.
Charged with keeping a convalescing Leo company, Fran is forced to listen to his theories about Europe being on the on the brink of war. As a distraction, she agrees to explore the house grounds looking for the burial mound after which the house is named. The deeper they explore, the more secrets they unearth…
Ooh, genuine tingles reading this one. An atmospheric and prophetic tale of childhood and a country on the brink of war. 8+
‘After the War,’ by Tom Palmer, cover by Violet Tobacco.
This title is from Barrington Stoke’s excellent ‘Conkers’ series which is aimed at readers aged 8+ and features heavily illustrated, more challenging titles from fantastic authors.
‘After the War,’ was inspired by the real-life events of the Windermere Boys – a group of of 300 refugee children who survived the concentration camps of World War Two.
As the Second World War draws to a close, Yossi, Leo and Mordecai are amongst the hundreds of traumatised children relocated to the Lake District having survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. All are battling their own demons and Yossi is desperately waiting for news from home about his missing father. Will their new life at Lake Windermere be enough to start the healing process and bring hope into their lives?
This is a powerful story with obviously upsetting subject matter, but Tom Palmer handles everything with his trademark sensitivity. You can rely on his story-telling being well-researched and all the more absorbing for it. Due to the nature of the subject matter, I would suggest this book is most suitable for readers aged 11+.
My next Barrington Stoke post will feature stories with an environmental theme.
*Many thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me these titles to review*