Dangerous Jane by Suzanne Slade, ill. by Alice Ratterree
A picture book biography of Jane Addams who started Hull House in Chicago to help the poor better their situation, inspired women and national leaders to settle disagreements peacefully during WWI, and then worked to help the poor and hurting after the dust of WWI settled, and became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Jane Addams is truly an inspirational model of someone who worked hard for social justice around the world. This picture book does a good job portraying the highlights of her work and life in a way kids can grasp. Hopefully many of them will be inspired to follow her example, to help the poor and hurting in the world in tangible ways that help them maintain their own dignity and make a lasting difference.
- Future World Changers, Fans of Inspirational Biographies, Picture Book Biography Fans, Lower Grade & Middle Grade Readers
Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton, ill. by Victor Ngai
When German U-boat attacks on cargo ships during WWI started causing residents of England to worry about shortages of materials, the UK started looking for ways to cut down on the number of ships sunk by torpedoes. Norman Wilkinson came to the government with the idea to camouflage the ships with designs that would confuse U-boat captains as to which direction the ship was headed. The government liked the idea and Wilkinson and a workforce of female artists started creating designs and painting ships. The idea was also adopted by the US and soon thousands of dazzle ships were sailing the seas using their crazy paint jobs to fool submarines.
I had never heard about dazzle ships before reading this book. It was a fascinating look at a creative attempt to solve a problem, highlights an often overlooked aspect of WWI, provides a historic look at the role of camouflage in war, looks at uses of optical illusions, and how artwork can have practical applications beyond aesthetics including psychological benefits. Writers and writing teachers, I strongly encourage reading the author’s note on the research process for this book in the back.
- Optical Illusion Fans, Art Lovers, WWI History Buffs, Writers, Middle Grade Readers
Escape from Germany: the Greatest POW Break-out of the First World War by Neil Hanson
The account of the daring escape of 29 prisoners of war from a German camp during World War I.
I've had this on my to-read list for a while. I've heard it is a fascinating look at escape attempts, prisoner of war life in WWI, and the largest successful escape that was pulled off.
- WWI History Buffs, Escape Story Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Adult Readers
Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, ill. by Sophie Blackall
A biographical picture book about Harry Coleburn, the bear he bought and named Winnipeg (Winnie for short), their adventures during WWI, Winnie's eventual placement at the London Zoo, and a little boy named Christopher Robin who fell in love with Winnie at the zoo.
(P.S. There’s now a middle grade fiction book by Mattick & Blackall called Winnie’s Great War based on this story out too.)
- Winnie the Pooh Fans, Animal Lovers, Canadian History Buffs, Award Winner Readers, Picture Book Biography Fans, Lower Grade Readers
The Great War 100: the First World War in Infographics by Scott Addington
Just like the title says, this is a collection of infographics with facts about various aspects of World War I.
After Nathan Hale’s book, this is the most checked out book on World War I in our libraries. Students are fascinated by the presentation of facts in this book.
- Curious Readers, WW I History Buffs, Visual Learners, Middle Grade Readers on up
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Aphrodite, caught between Ares and Hephaestus argues that gods don't really understand what love is, that only mortals do. So she tells them a tale about what true love looks like. She tells them of Hazel, a shy pianist in England who met James, a soldier about to leave for the WWI front, at a parish dance the week before he shipped out. And she tells them of Aubrey, an African American jazz pianist and soldier, and Colette, a Belgian girl who has lost everything in the war, but is still doing her part to help in France by volunteering with the YMCA. A story of life, death, WWI, racism, music, and love narrated mostly by Aphrodite, but also by Ares, Apollo, and Hades.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. You don't think of mythology and WWI love stories as being necessarily powerful reads, but this was such a powerful read. Berry explored so very many important issues, from racism to what true love looks like to the very real fact that war makes people kill other people, while telling a fully engrossing tale. So far, this is my top YA read of the year. Click on the title for my full review and content notes.
- Touching Love Story Fans, Historical Fiction Fans, Deep & Meaningful Message Fans, Mythology Fans, Music Lovers, Young Adult & Adult Readers
Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, #4) by Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale, the Provost, and the Hangman are back for another tale from their future (our past). This time, they demand a tale of war...with animals and a touch of humor to lighten up the grim facts. So Nathan Hale gives a broad sweeping overview of the Great War with different animals representing each country. Due to the grand scheme of the tale, Hale only focuses on the main things that led to war and the most important battles.
As Hale has the characters mention during the story and the bibliography, covering an entire war that spanned the globe in one book is a rather daunting task. It was impossible to cover all the details, but I felt Hale did a good job covering the highlights and giving a satisfactory broad overview. In fact, it does a better job of covering WWI than most textbooks, and I know it does so in a much more entertaining and memorable way. I’ve had several History Bowl participants tell me this was the most helpful book they found for studying up on WWI.
- Graphic Novel Fans, WWI History Buffs or Studiers, Humor Fans, Reluctant Readers, Middle Grade & Young Adult Readers
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
The experiences of WWI told from the point of view of a horse who is sold to the army and sent to the front in France.
Confession time. I haven’t read this, yet. But all the students who have, have raved about it. It’s definitely on my list to read someday. And it comes highly recommended.
- Animal Fiction Lovers, Horse Lovers, WWI History Buffs, Historical Fiction Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up