World War I: What was Once the War to End All Wars – May 2015

Selected and annotated by Melissa Albarran

Spanning the years before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the flu pandemic of 1918, this collection revolves around the first global war that heralded the use of modern warfare. Books include fiction and nonfiction appropriate for grades 3 through 12.

Angus, Sam. Soldier Dog. Feiwel, 2013. 224p. Gr. 7-12.
Searching for escape from his increasingly violent father, fourteen-year-old Stanley lies about his age and joins the British army. He ends up at War Dog School, training dogs to carry messages in battle. After the death of his first charge, Stanley must take on another assignment, Pistol, and face the threat of continued heartbreak when his canine companion is called to serve.

Bausum, Ann. Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog. National Geographic, 2014. 72p. Gr. 4-7.
Adopted canine mascot of his master’s World War I regiment, Stubby faced the same hardships as his human comrades-in arms, including poison gas, harsh winters, and enemy soldiers. Bausum shifts her usual focus from human history to the history of a terrier and his effect on the soldiers he joined in the trenches.

Bausum, Ann. Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front during World War I. National Geographic, 2010. 88p. Gr. 6-9.
After the sinking of the Lusitania, Americans witnessed the suspension of First Amendment rights with the passing of the Espionage and Sedition Acts. Drawing parallels to the Patriot Act following September 11, 2001 and other wartime actions, Bausum echoes the adage that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Boyne, John. Stay Where You Are & Then Leave. Holt, 2014. 245. Gr. 4-6.
Working as a shoe shine in King’s Cross Station to add to his mother’s earnings, Alfie stumbles upon the discovery that his father is confined to a hospital just north of London. With grand plans to rescue and return his father to their home, Alfie doesn’t anticipate the effects the war would have on his father or on their life together.

Fleming, Candace. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. Schwartz & Wade, 2014. [ p]. Gr. 7-12.
The last Russian emperor, Tsar Nicholas II, and his family lived glamorous and romantic lives in great contrast with the common people of Russia, who struggled to bring food to the table and searched for a way to improve their livelihood. Fleming supplies readers with the social, political, economical and religious influences that lead to the decline of a dynasty amid the turbulence of World War I.

Freedman, Russell. The War to End All Wars: World War I. Clarion, 2010. 176p. Gr. 7-10.
Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, international politics, promises and alliances dragged many nations into carnage and misery. Freedman lays out the events between 1914 and 1918 chronologically, including chapters on the development of modern weaponry and ending with the small ripples from the Treaty of Versailles that hint toward the tidal wave of World War II.

Hendrix, John. Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914. Abrams, 2014. 40p. Gr. 3-5.
Charlie, a freckled young soldier, shares a shred of hope for humanity in a letter to his mother during a time of bloodshed and loss. Between days filled with machine-gun shells and grenades, British and German soldiers pause their warfare to celebrate Christmas. The festivities grind to a halt when participants are threatened with charges of treason, and grim reality resumes. Though Charlie is fictional, Hendrix notes that the truce was not and provides a photo of the short holiday reprieve.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story. Putnam, 2013. 32p. Gr 7-10 yrs.
As his mother and sister join the movement to knit socks, hats, and scarves for soldiers fighting in Europe, Mikey stubbornly refuses to join in, sure that knitting is for girls. Swayed by a challenge, Mikey and his pals join a Knitting Bee and after coming up short, the new knitter works hard to send a pair of hand-made socks to his father overseas.

Losure, Mary. The Fairy Ring, or Elsie and Frances Fool the World. Candlewick, 2012. 184p. Gr. 5-9.
At the tail end of World War I, nine-year-old Frances spies fairies behind her house. Only her cousin Elsie believes her, suggesting they take photographs of paper fairies to stop their elders’ teasing. Once the photographs fall into the hands of fairy-believer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the once-harmless prank becomes a national hoax.

Lucier, Makiia. A Death-Struck Year. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 282p. Gr. 7-12.
As the Spanish Influenza floods the Pacific Northwest, Cleo serves as a Red Cross volunteer, transporting instruction and supplies to care for the sick. Cleo develops many new relationships as she works within the makeshift hospital, including a romantic connection with a wounded World War I veteran and medical student. As the epidemic peaks, Cleo begins to realize she has found direction in her life.

Schröder, Monika. My Brother’s Shadow. Foster/Farrar, 2011. 217p. Gr. 6-9.
At the close of World War I, Moritz witnesses the schism of his family as his mother attends insurgent Socialist meetings and his brother remains a soldier on the Western front. Moritz slowly begins leaning towards his mother’s political inclinations but when his brother returns home with fortified nationalist pride in tow, the family’s divide is magnified, reflecting the political power struggles that emerged from the rubble of WWI.

Walker, Sally M. Winnie: The Remarkable Tale of a Real Bear. Holt, 2015. 34p. 7-10 yrs.
Winnie, the black bear that inspired the creation of the well-known Winnie-the-Pooh, met Harry Colebourn on a train station platform. Harry was a veterinarian and a soldier-in-training during World War I. Winnie accompanied Harry to England and became his regiment’s lovable mascot, but when Colebourn was called to France, Winnie found a new home in the London Zoo.

Walrath, Dana. Like Water on Stone. Delacorte, 2014. 353p. Gr. 9-12
As the Ottoman Empire enters the turmoil of World War I, Shahen lobbies for his family’s emigration to America and receives a steely veto from his father. After an attack that leaves Shahen, his twin sister, Sosi, and their youngest sister, Mariam, orphans, the three trek through the mountain in search of refuge from the war and the Armenian genocide.

Westerfeld, Scott. Behemoth. Simon Pulse, 2010. 485p. Gr. 5-9.
This second installment of the Leviathan steampunk/alternative history adventure is set in cosmopolitan Turkey on the brink of World War I, and the crew of the Leviathan is tasked with a mission of sabotage cloaked in diplomacy. The gadgets and dirigibles add the to political intrigue that revolves around Prince Alek’s claim to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

Westerfeld, Scott. Goliath. Simon Pulse, 2011. 543p. Gr. 5-9.
In the conclusion to Westerfeld’s alternative history of WWI, the mechanically dependent Germans clash against the bioengineering Britains. Prince Alek juggles with the decision to use Nikola Tesla’s alleged electrical weaponry, despite his handlers’ misgivings. His discovery of his friend Dylan’s true identity as a girl, Deryn, throws their friendship into unfamiliar waters and threatens the already fragile British diplomatic relations.