Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Kids in War series


In November 1942, twelve-year-old Calvin Graham found himself in the midst of an intense battle on a ship in the Pacific Ocean. An explosion damaged his ship and wounded many of his shipmates, but Calvin acted quickly to do his duty and help those around him. Join Calvin aboard the USS South Dakota and experience the story of one of the youngest people to serve in World War II.

Incredible - not only was he able to fool enough people to join the ranks of the Navy (and sure, they were probably willing to look the other way for kids who weren't quite 17...but 12?!), but he also showed poise and dedication beyond that of many adults. And then to have his awards stripped from him when they learned his true age (thanks a lot, Mom)! Nothing fires up a middle schooler like righteous indignation - history teachers can use this title to introduce anything from World War II to Veterans' Rights. This would be a fantastic book to read right before Veteran's Day, giving some context, and hopefully some deserved respect to those grizzled old veterans who come to the schools to speak.


Gunfire rang out across the countryside as fifteen-year-old John Cook watched his unit struggle during the Battle of Antietam. Union troops were falling fast as they tried to push Confederate forces out of Maryland. With only a few soldiers left standing, John knew he had to do something. Follow John as he joins in, fighting against all odds to defend his unit during the bloodiest day of the Civil War.

By comparison, Cook was an old man at 15 years old. He began serving as a bugler or messenger, but at Antietam he was needed to actually fight. What struck me on the timeline is that it took 32 years before Cook was awarded a medal for his efforts - almost the same amount of time it took for Graham's medal to be returned to him.

Both of these titles were very quick reads, engaging and quick-paced without resorting to gore and sensationalism. Get this series on your shelves for those reluctant readers and watch them fly back off! Other titles include:

Johnny Clem's Civil War Story
Momcilo Gavric's World War I Story
Sybil Ludington's Revolutionary War Story
Tillie Pierce's Civil War Story

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