Tuesday 27 November 2012

A Sea of Stars - Little M's Review

A Sea of Stars by Kate Maryon

A Sea of Stars - Kate Maryon
A Sea of Stars is about a family who adopt a 10 year old girl called Cat. Cat’s real mother can barely look after herself, let alone Cat and her brother. Maya on the other hand, the daughter of the family who adopts Cat, is not allowed to surf on her own without a friend or an adult. This is all because of her little brother’s death but when Maya finds out they are adopting Cat she becomes more excited.  Cat tries to fit in but she can’t forget the fact that her brother is at a different home because the social workers wanted to split them up. As Maya and Cat live together they realise how similar they are. Is Cat going to accept the fact that they are her new family? And is Maya going to be allowed to surf on her own?
I have read many books so far but none have had much to do with surfing. I really like this book because I thought the ending was put together nicely. I now realise how different the Jacqueline Wilson Tracy Beaker books are to this one. It’s so different because in Tracy Beaker most of the kids want to be adopted, but in this one Cat didn’t want to be. 

After reading this I really want to read Shine, Glitter and A Million Angels by Kate Maryon.
I think people who like surfing, books where a child is being adopted or maybe people who like Tracy Beaker will like this book. If I had to give an age rating I would probably say around nine or ten plus because some younger kids might not be reading at that level yet. But it depends on their capability.

Publication details: 2012, Harper Collins, London, paperback
This copy:  received for review from the publisher.


Saturday 24 November 2012

Lauren St John chat & giveaway

One of Little M's favourite authors - on our blog!!!
Rushing to finish two books (yes, the next Laura Marlin series and the sequel to The One Dollar Horse), we’re delighted that author Lauren St John managed to squeeze in some time for Little M before rushing off to a writing residency at a boarding school!

Little M: What was it like to grow up in Zimbabwe?

Lauren: It's one of the most beautiful countries in the world and it was incredible to grow up surrounded by nature, but I also grew up in a war so I spent quite a bit of my childhood knowing I could die at any time.

Little M: Did you ever have a white giraffe?

Lauren: I didn't have a white giraffe but I did have a pet giraffe called Jenny. When I was 11 we moved to a farm called Rainbow's End, which had a 100-acre private game reserve on it. We had impala, wildebeest, warthogs, monkeys, ostriches and Jenny. It's quite amazing to wake up in the morning and look out of the window and see a giraffe at the bottom of your garden.

Little M: Have you ever ridden a giraffe?

Lauren: I've never ridden a giraffe and I don't think anyone ever has. It's too far to fall!

Little M: Have you ever been on an investigation, like in the Laura Marlin stories?

Lauren: I've done a lot of investigations for The Sunday Times and I love it. It is sort of like being a detective. I did one on spies, which was great fun, and another into dolphin trafficking, which was quite scary because it involved the Russian and Ukrainian mafia.

Little M: Do/did you have a horse or do you just ride?

Lauren: We had eight horses when I was growing up, but now I just ride when I can. I'd love a horse.

Lauren St John

UK Giveaway - The One Dollar Horse

We have 2 copies of The One Dollar Horse to giveaway!
The One Dollar Horse is an adventure story about Casey, whose dream is to win at the Badminton Horse Trials.

To enter:

Please leave a comment on this blog post 


e-mail us: wesatdown2  @  gmail  .  com
using the subject line ONE DOLLAR HORSE


Tweet us: @wesatdown
Using hashtag #onedollarhorse

1. This giveaway closes at 5pm on Monday 3rd December 2012.
2. Two winners will be chosen at random.
3. Winners will be contacted for their postal addresses. Prizes can only be delivered to UK addresses. 
4. If you are younger than 13, please get a parent/guardian's permission to enter.
5. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, Orion Children's Books.
Best of luck!


Thursday 22 November 2012

Hold On - M's review

Hold On by Alan Gibbons
Because of the issues Hold On explores, this review has been written in support of Anti-Bullying Week.

John Sorrel is dead and Annie knows who his killers are and she wants them to pay. She’s been away in Canada but now she’s back and she knows what happened because John had been e-mailing her. She’s found his diary too and she’s so sure that she knows what happened and why – but is she right? And what is she going to do about it? Will that make things any better for anyone?

Hold On - Alan Gibbons
Hold On explores the complex issues surrounding teen suicide, bullying, portioning blame, seeking answers and loyal friendship. It tackles these issues from the perspectives of the person being bullied, John, the school bullies and the people who John left behind – especially Annie.

Any novel about teen suicide is always going to be chilling and this one is no different. However, Hold On also conveys messages of hope for a different outcome for people who are involved in bullying either as the victim, the bully, or an onlooker. The loudest one is ‘speak out’. Don’t bottle things up, don’t try to be the tough guy on your own, and don’t shy away from the truth because you’re afraid. Also, don’t be afraid to change. I imagine most people will identify with some aspects of this story and may find that either comforting or a wake-up call.

Small quibble, but I occasionally got a bit muddled about the timeframes in the story – but it does all come together and you can figure it out easily enough. Also, the eight year olds in this novel sounded years older than any eight year olds I’ve met.

While it is an issues novel, Hold On is also a quick read with a compelling storyline and a couple of twists and turns. It deals with heavy issues in a forthright but sensitive way. The interest level might be more suited to secondary school readers but the writing is accessible to younger readers too.


Publication details:
This novel was originally published in 2005.

This edition: Indigo, 2012 edition, London, paperback

This copy: received for review from the publisher

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Carnegie 2013: Shadowing the Longlist

We follow the Carnegie awards with great interest partly because their lists are one of the places we look to for reading inspiration, we often buy books that make the shortlist and also because it's fun. We were obviously delighted then when we won a whole bundle of books that were on the Carnegie 2013 longlist from Random House Children's Publishers. I spent a lunchtime thumbing through these books to see what I thought.Three of them I'd already read and thoroughly enjoyed and my hunch is that at least one of them will make the shortlist (if not win).

Last year, Little M had been involved with shadowing the shortlist at school, but they started late and didn't get very far with it. So, I had a think and, because we have a couple of guest reviewers, voila, We Sat Down has signed up on the Carnegie's official Shadowing Site. We're planning on 'shadowing' the whole of the Carnegie Longlist. We'll be blogging about it on here too, right up until June 2013 when the winner is announced.

Random House Children's Publishers' Carnegie 2013 Longlist
By 'shadowing', we don't promise to read and review every single book. By my count, that'd be 68 and not every one will be to our taste. What we mean is that we'll read and review a great deal of them, but we will have some fun and explorations with each and every single title on the Carnegie 2013 longlist. Because we're not the Carnegie judges, we might occasionally apply our own criteria to the books (but we'll let you know if we do that!).

We'd love to make a really big shadow (although ours will be a shadow of sunshine because we're not going to block out any light nor warmth). So, if anyone is interested in joining us, please get in touch. You can join in by commenting on any of our blog posts that are tagged with Carnegie2013. You can join in by reading or exploring one of the books. We'll have other specific ways to get involved as we go along too.

So to start it all off, which books on the list have you read? Which book would you like to read next?

Here is a list of all the books on the Carnegie 2013 longlist:

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday Children's Books)

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Macmillan Children's Books)

All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)

The Seeing by Diana Hendry (Bodley Head)

Hitler's Angel by William Osborne (Chicken House)

This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury)

The Broken Road by B.R. Collins (Bloomsbury)

Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children's Books)

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)

Saving Daisy by Phil Earle (Puffin Books)

Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers (Bodley Head)

Spy For The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin (Doubleday Children's Books)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Doubleday Children's Books)

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Random House David Fickling Books)

Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (David Fickling Books)

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)

Itch by Simon Mayo (Corgi Children's Books)

To Be A Cat by Matt Haig (Bodley Head)

Trouble in Toadpool by Anne Fine (Doubleday Children's Books)
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus (Macmillan Children's Books)

VIII by H.M. Castor (Templar Publishing)

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children's Books)

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (Marion Lloyd Books)

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Indigo)

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walker Books)

Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn (Macmillan Children's Books)

15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (Oxford University Press)

The Prince Who Walked With Lions by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children's Books)

Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Puffin Books)

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)

A Skull in Shadows Lane by Robert Swindells (Corgi Children's Books)

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond (Puffin Books)

A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)

Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)

Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (Oxford University Press)

At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Unrest by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)

The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant (Faber and Faber)

Naked by Kevin Brooks (Puffin Books)

The Traitors by Tom Becker (Scholastic)

Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Andersen Press)

The Treasure House by Linda Newbery (Orion Children's Books)

Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver (Puffin Books)

After by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books)

Burn Mark by Laura Powell (Bloomsbury)

The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen (Oxford University Press)

Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)

Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts (Templar Publishing)

Scramasax by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Quercus Publishing)

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Walker Books)

Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess (Puffin Books)

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)

The Flask by Nicky Singer (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean (Brambleby Books)

Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher (Hodder Children's Books)

The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson (Marion Lloyd Books)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Goblins by Philip Reeve (Marion Lloyd Books)

The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon (Profile Books)

Goldilocks on CCTV by John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke (Walker Books)

To find out more about shadowing, have a look at the Carnegie Shadowing Site.

Here is a link to the We Sat Down Shadowing Page.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Pigeon English - M's review

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Due to the themes and content of this novel, this review has been deliberately selected by me to run during Anti-Bullying Week.
Previously shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, Pigeon English really is not a heavy, wade-through-me novel.  It’s pacy and simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.  

Harri is in Year 7 and has recently moved from Ghana with his mother and sister. They are living on a rough council estate in London. Harri tells a story about what happens when a boy from their area is found stabbed to death and he and his friend decide to become ‘detectives’.  Through Harri’s ‘whodunit’ detective story, Pigeon English explores what life is like for children trying to make a life for themselves in the London ganglands.

At first, I thought the title Pigeon English was mainly going to be a play on words, pidgin English, seeing as Harri is from Ghana.  In one way it is, as throughout the story Harri explains what he thinks the new words, rules and slang he’s picked up mean. Many of these will make you chuckle and many will elicit other emotions too.  Some of it is a bit of a pidgin mix up. Harri got me too – for a long while, when Harri said ‘Asweh,’ I thought Asweh was some kind of ancestral god (I swear, I’m such a sucker)! And his sister, Lydia, was funny by always reprimanding Harri and reminding him to ‘advise yourself”!

But there is also an actual pigeon in the novel. This pigeon flies into Harri’s London flat one day, and also acts as his guardian. For me, the pigeon as guardian provides a foreboding warning to the reader about where the plot is going. You might be chuckling away at Harri’s innocence but the pigeon reminds you that this story is really about violent bullying.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
Harri is a delightful narrator and character. Deep down he’s a really good boy and for most readers, he’s likely to melt your hearts.  It’s the little things he does. Like he thinks people should tell the estate gangs the secret that gangs can also do good, helpful missions, not just harmful ones. And his hand-drawn lines on his plain trainers to make them look like the cool brand ones.

As with most child narrators, Harri’s observations, thoughts and recounts, shed light on the many different prejudices that people carry around in their heads and throw about in their words and sometimes actions too.

Pigeon English is also a murder mystery, a whodunit story and in this way joins some other wonderful novels for teens like The CuriousIncident of the Dog In the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Night Sky In MyHead by Sarah Hammond.

Harri’s story is a chilling one. While it was not written or first published as a YA novel, in comparison to some other YA novels that take on gritty urban issues, for me, Pigeon English sings and soars above them. There are some nasty characters in this novel but the author, through Harri, softens them and makes them more palatable to read about than some other novels achieve, such as This Is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees or Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses sequence. Shocking as the story in Pigeon English is, it doesn’t aim for a ‘shock factor’. I’d even go so far as to say that while it dishes dirt, it takes the grit out. For me, that’s what gives it wings.

This new edition is published for the YA market and has guidance on the back: Parental Advisory: Explicit Content. Yes, there is some explicit content in this novel mostly involving knives, tongues and fingers - all told from eleven year old Harri’s perspective. Definitely one for the older teens (and obviously adults) but I think a lot of young teens could (and maybe should) get their heads around it too. Strong hearts needed. Perhaps tissues too.  This is a novel worth keeping.


Publication details:
Bloomsbury, October 2012 edition, London, paperback
This copy: received for review from the publisher


Monday 19 November 2012

Bullies, Wonder & A Giveaway

Today is the start of Anti-Bullying Week which runs in the UK from 19-23 November 2012. We Sat Down will be supporting the week with reviews of books where bullying is a central theme in the stories.

First up, is Wonder by RJ Palacio, our contribution to the new anti-bullying book club launched by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) and Random House Children’s Publishers.  Plus, there's a chance to win a copy of Wonder by RJ Palacio (see end of post). Wonder has been nominated for the Carnegie medal 2013.

Our reviews of Wonder:

Alice (12) was our nominated reader to review Wonder for the Anti-Bullying Alliance book club. Here are her overall thoughts:

The book is about a boy named August who has a deformed face, and what it feels like to be him. The book is told by different people in his life at different points in the story.

Favourite character
Summer because she made friends with August and was one of the first to do it.
10/10- an excellent read but it can get emotional in places.
Age rating
All ages!

Little M's thoughts:

Wonder is about a boy named August who has a mis-shaped face and is partly deaf. He starts high school without his astronaut helmet and without his mum. August got home-schooled after he was bullied in primary school.

I would recommend this book to everybody because it shows bullying in school and out of school but there are some kind people too. I think it is an easy read. I found that one of the chapters was different to all the others and I still wonder (wonder - ha!) why. This book is in We Sat Down's Top 20.

Here is a link to M's review of Wonder which was posted earlier this year.

Wonder - UK Giveaway
To win a copy of Wonder by RJ Palacio:
Leave a comment on this post
E-mail us: wesatdown2  @  gmail  .  com
with the subject line WONDER

1. This giveaway will close at 5pm on Friday 23 November 2012.
2. If you are younger than 13, please get your parent's/guardian's permission to enter.
3. A winner will be selected at random.
4. Winners will be contacted by e-mail for their UK postal address. Please make sure that your entry enables us to contact you.
5. This giveaway is sponsored by ABA and Random House Children's Publishers.


Saturday 17 November 2012

What's going on? #9

We haven't done one of these in ages. Not since the start of the 2012-13 school year! So, here's a bit of what's been going on:

Anti-Bullying Week 19 - 23 November 2012
Next week is Anti-Bullying Week in the UK and We Sat Down will be running reviews of books where bullying is central to the stories. Plus, from Monday, there's a chance to win a copy of Wonder by RJ Palacio.
Novels that we'll be posting reviews on during Anti-Bullying week:
Wonder - RJ Palacio
Pigeon English - Stephen Kelman
Hold On - Alan Gibbons

For schools and educators, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) has launched a new 'anti-bullying' themed book club withRandom House Children’s Publishers. The book club is open to schools and colleges from the ABA School and College Network. Book club members will be invited to nominate students to review the books. The ABA book club has selected Wonder by RJ Palacio as its launch book for the UK’s autumn term.

Those of you who have read our blog before will know that we are huge fans of this book. So we are delighted to have been invited to take part in this new book club!

Books In

Here are some books that we've received for review. recently. Many of them are proofs for books that'll be out in spring 2013. See if you can spot a big We Sat Down change in there too!

Where's Dogmatix? from Orion. "Aaaaah, it's like Where's Wally!" yelled Little M. Yep, Where's Wally Asterix style but this time you've got to find the dog. Cool. And you can play a game with it. There are all sorts of scoring options and we were both being very grabby-handy with it trying to spot the most first. But, our close observational skills are severely lacking and we didn't even get close to finishing the first page. Good luck to those with better eyesight and maybe a good one for parents who want to occupy their kids. But, spotting the characters is really hard.
Deadly Diaries by Steve Backshall (Orion): This is a heavy, glossy hardback with loads of photos. Basically, it takes you on location with the team from the BBC's Deadly 60 series. It's about animals that are deadly to other animals, not humans. Flicking through it, I've already learned a few things myself. This book is on sale now and you can expect a really wild review from some really wild tweens in a really wild location in December.
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Indigo): From the award- winning Annabel Pitcher, Ketchup Clouds is very different but just as good (we both read it and will be jointly reviewing it in the new year). It's an epistolic thriller and is bound to strike all sorts of chords with teen readers - especially older ones. It is out just after Christmas.
A Month With April-May by Edyth Bulbring (Hot Key Books): originally published in South Africa as Melly, Mrs Ho and Me, April-May is a light-hearted contemporary schoolgirl comedy set in Johannesburg (with a lot of underlying social commentary too). Out February 2013, expect another joint review from us.
Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill (Red Fox): I met Laura Dockrill earlier this year when she did a reading from this. She was hilarious. This is a funny tween novel about people who notice. and then notice that they notice. Out March 2013, Little M's reviewing this one.
Quantum Drop by Sacci Lloyd (Hodder Children's): I've only read a few chapters of Lloyd's Carbon Diaries 2015 and her writing style in Quantum Drop seems to be slightly different. Still very, very contemporary though. Again, this one is futuristic and looks like a sci-fi type thriller. Out Feb 2013.
Spotted the difference yet? It's adult. And it's all because of Tinder Press (Well almost. It might also have to do with some YA stepping over hazy boundaries into what I definitely call adult fiction. It might also have to do with M reading a lot of adult fiction too.). Tinder Press is a new imprint from Headline, who aim to publish diverse fiction that provokes an impassioned response from readers. I couldn't resist. So that's where Snapper (Brian Kimberling) and Amity & Sorrow (Peggy Riley) fit in. What I can say now is, yes, empassioned response to both has been elicited. Not in a teary way. Neither novel is sentimental. Probably a publishing imprint that I'll look out for. Reviews up early next year - from M. Definitely from M. And tagged with Adult Fiction (just in case anyone's being picky with their shelving).

Here are some books that we've won:

How exciting, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy are both signed copies!!!

Pig Heart Boy was the first book that Little M read by Malorie Blackman. This came home from a new school book club which I think has been supported by one of Booktrust's bookgifting schemes. Little M read it in a single afternoon and loved it. "Sad end," she said.

On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming was a Halloween win for Little M - thanks Random House. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (now longlisted for the Carnegie 2013) from Orion was won on the wonderful History Girls blog, and The Magic Pony by Patricia Leitch is from Catnip Books.

Thursday 15 November 2012

War & Conflicts - Book List

Sunday was Remembrance Day so  we thought now was a good time to share a list of children's/YA novels about war and conflicts. This is one of Little M's favourite genres too.

Some of these novels are probably best suited to older readers because of the.....uh, violence. Some of these novels are historical fiction, others use the topic of war more loosely to create a different kind of novel. A couple of these books are memoirs.

We have read some of these books and if we've read them recently, there is a link to our review. We've also included a list of books that we haven't read but that have been recommended to us. 
Please feel free to include any other books that have war or conflict as a theme in the comments section.

Books we have read:
World War I
War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

World War II

Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys (review 1 & review 2)

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein (review)

The Silver Sword – Ian Serraillier (review)

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Hitler’s Angel – William Osborne (review)

Once – Morris Gleitzman

Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden

Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (non-fiction/only part read)

The Seeing – Diana Hendry (post-WWII) (review)

Hitlers Canary – Sandi Toksvig

Civil Wars & Conflicts

Never Fall Down – Patricia McCormick (review)

Now Is the Time For Running – Michael Williams (review)

A World Between Us – Lydia Syson (review)

A Soldier’s Secret – Marissa Moss (review)



This Is Not Forgiveness – Celia Rees (review)

Billie Templar’s War – Ellie Irving (review)

Shadow – Michael Morpurgo


Futuristic/Speculative Wars

Insignia – SJ Kincaid (review)

Katya’s World - Jonathan L. Howard (review)

Other Recommendations 
We have not read these books. They have been recommended by various people.

World War I

Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo

Also, see Booktrust's list


World War II

Far From My Home, Never to Return - Nadia Seluga (Polish child’s WWII Memoir)

The Endless Steppe - Esther Hauzig’s (memoir)

The Upstairs Room – Joanna Reiss (autobiography, Dutch occupation)

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr (Jewish girl in Germany)

At the Firefly Gate – Linda Newbury (romantic ghost story)

The Machine Gunners – Robert Westall

Blitzcat – Robert Westall (about a cat)

Tamar – Mal Peet (Dutch resistance)

Once, Then , Now, After – Morris Gleitzmann quartet (We’ve read Once. It's brilliant!)

Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo

A Medal For Leroy – Michael Morpurgo (inspired by first black officer in British army)

The Chalet School in Exile – Elinor Brent-Dyer

The Great Escape - Megan Rix (pets left by evacuees)

I Am David – Anne Holm (escapee from a communist camp)

The Rabbit Girl – Mary Arrigan (evacuees)



The Breadwinner – Deborah Ellis (11 year old who becomes a breadwinner in Afghanistan)

A Million Angels – Kate Maryon



Out of Shadows – Jason Wallace



The Wheel of Surya – Jamila Gavin



How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

Non-Fiction: Britain & World War I
Here's a list of non-fiction titles on The Guardian website.

There are more suggestions from Alex Baugh (The Children's War blogger) on her Remembrance Day guest post for us.

Have you read any of these books?
Can you recommend any other books with war and conflict as a theme?



Tuesday 13 November 2012

A Soldier's Secret - Little M's review

A Soldier's Secret by Marissa Moss

A Soldier's Secret - Marissa Moss
A Soldier's Secret is one of my favourites because it was based on a true story about Sarah Edmonds, a civil war hero in America in 1861. I don't know if this happened in the true story but this is what happened in the novel. Frank Thompson is a Union Army soldier in America. He is actually a she. Sarah Edmonds is actually Frank Thompson. Sarah hated being a woman because she just got bossed around and treated like a woman, instead of a person/man. So, she runs away and disguises herself as a man. She signs up for the army to help fight the American Civil War. She becomes Private Frank Thompson who is a mail carrier, spy and nurse for the army.

From drills to boggy marches, to blood, guts and gore (like amputations and maggots in wounds - ergh!), this story made me think about what it would have been like to be a part of the American Civil War.

I read this book quite slowly (for me - 2 weeks) because I had homework. But, I found that I enjoyed it more because the story stayed with me for longer.

I would recommend this book to people who are fans of war novels set in the nineteenth or twentieth century. If you are interested in books where women want to fight in a war, you might be interested in this novel. This book reminded me of a book called Scarlet because of the fact that a girl dresses up as a boy when they're not meant to do so.

I am happy to say that A Soldier's Secret by Marissa Moss has been nominated for the Amelia Bloomer award for young people's books that are about women striving  for equality.

Publication details:
Amulet, September 2012, New York, paperback, hardcover

This copy: uncorrected proof received for review from Abrams & Chronicle Books.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day - Alex Baugh from The Children’s War

Alex Baugh runs The Children's War blog which holds an extensive collection of books about children and teenagers and Word War II. We're delighted that Alex has joined us (all the way from New York) for a special Remembrance Day guest post.
“Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure”
- Abraham Lincoln

In 1918, on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, the Armistice ending World War I, the war to end all wars, was signed between the Allies and Germany. The date became a nation holiday called Armistice Day, set aside so that nations to remember and honor those who lost their lives on the battlefields and in the trenches.

Sadly, World War I wasn’t the war to end all wars and twenty-one years later, the world was at it again. Six years later, World War II finally ended. In the United States, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day, a day to honor all veterans of the armed services, the fallen as well as those who are still living, and those who are still serving. In the British Commonwealth nations, Armistice Day was changed to Remembrance Day, a day honor those who fell in battle in all wars.

Here are some of my favorite books for helping young people understand the meaning and importance of Veterans’ Day and Remembrance Day:


The Unknown Soldier by Linda Granfield

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson

Veterans Day by Marlene Targ Brill, illustrated by Qi Z Wang

Remembrance Day by Molly Aloian

Remembrance Day by Jane Bingham


And here are some of my favorite stories about the men, women and even animal soldiers:

World War I Stories:

War Game: Village Green to No-Man’s Land by Michael Foreman

Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon

And the Soldiers Sang by J. Patrick Lewis

The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Soldier’s Game by James Kilgore

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque


World II Stories:

A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo

The Diary of a World War II Pilot by Dennis Hamley

The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, a World War II Soldier by Walter Dean Myers

Coming in to Land by Dennis Hamley

Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchas

Robert Moran, Private by Ken Catran

Mare’s War by Tanita Davis

Prisoner of Dieppe: World War II by Hugh Brewster

Behind Enemy Lines: World War II by Carol Matas

Fly Boy by Eric Walters

- by Alex Baugh, The Children's War