Remembering War, Working for Peace

November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada.

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Peace. Something we should always try to achieve in our society. We need peace in our life. Peace in our minds, peace with our peers, and peace with ourselves. However, making peace with someone you are unfamiliar with can be extremely difficult. Especially if the other person is your enemy, your target to kill. Regardless, in the picture book The Enemy by Davide Cali (Scwartz & Wade Books, 2009), two soldiers learn to make peace with each other. Listen to their thoughts, experiences and emotions as they endured an everlasting war. Notice their hopes, dreams and goals. Witness how two enemies, at war, came to find peace. Be sure to read this touching, heart-softening fable: The Enemy: a Book about Peace. (Ann in grade eight)

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Matthews, L.S. Fish. Delacorte, 2004.
Tiger and his parents have to leave the village where they have been working. A drought is drying up the land, war is approaching, and their only hope is to escape across the mountains. So they set out with a guide. But events become more and more mysterious after Tiger finds a little fish in a mud puddle and determines to keep it alive until they all reach safety. This short but sophisticated story is for readers with imagination eleven years old and up. (Refugees; Voyages and travels; Survival; War)

Click HERE to find more books about characters with courage.

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Rumford, James. Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2008.
In this picture book for adolescents, bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad while a boy uses the art of calligraphy to emotionally distance himself from the fighting.

Life lessons, I learned, can come from pretty much anywhere, whether it is my mom telling me to think ahead of what the weather will be like and to dress appropriately, or just me realizing I just did a stupid thing and telling myself, “Well, I’ll never do that again.”  And many times I find those life lessons in books. Silent Music by James Rumford (Roaring Book Press, 2008) is one of the books from which I learned a good life lesson. At first, when I picked up this picture book, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I needed to sign out two picture books so this was the one I grabbed off the shelf. Well, I guess this was the right one to pick because in the few pages this book had, there was so much meaning that a whole novel could be written on it.  Some of the things that I learned are that inspiration can lead to great things, and that in a time of depression, desolation and war, not losing yourself is one of the most important things that you can do. This story is set in Baghdad and is the tale of Ali, a young boy, who loves to play soccer and dance, but most of all loves practicing calligraphy. He is inspired by the great calligrapher Yakut and so, totally trapped in a country where war and poverty are all around, he turns to what he loves to bring peace to his heart and to his mind. This was truly an inspiring story. (Luisa in grade eight)

Click HERE to find more books about wars since World War 2. 

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I recently read the book War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (Kaye and Ward Ltd., 1982), an historical novel about a farm horse sent to war where he makes friends with both sides. He also gains the trust of a fellow horse who is much larger and prouder but just as brave as him. The two become great friends and get even closer when one of them gets really sick and weak. I really enjoyed this book because I like horses and action and the author is very descriptive. Near the end of this novel, the main character gets stuck in no-man’s-land so the two sides come out to flip a coin to see who will get him. Wales beat Germany in the coin-toss so Joey was led to the Wales’ side where he later met his original owner who took him back home with him at the end of the war. This story is filled with suspense and perseverance which makes it that much better. (Kiera in grade eight)

Click HERE to find more books about wars around the world from WW1 to WW2.

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Kent, Trilby. Stones for My Father. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2011.
Twelve-year-old “Corlie Roux, an Africaner from the Transvaal, copes with many changes after her father dies, war breaks out with the British, and she and the mother who clearly prefers her brothers escape to the bush only to be sent to a concentration camp.” – CIP  Set during the Boer War at the turn of the 19th century, this vivid historical novel – with some swearing – is highly recommended for avid readers in grades 6 and up. [Brothers and sisters; Concentration camps; Historical fiction; Mothers and daughters; South Africa; South African War; Survival] 

Click HERE to find more books about wars before WW 1.

Suddenly, Autumn Arrives

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple…”  – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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“The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward. […] The trees overhead made a great sound of letting down their dry rain.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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“Why is summer mist romantic and autumn mist just sad?”  – Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

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“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth…The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her…In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”  – Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

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“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.” – Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” – Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

My dog,
galloping through the rain,
galloping through the freezing rain,
galloping with his dog friends through the freezing rain,
yells with joy.
– Jake, WAFMS grade 8

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“In November, at winter’s gate, the stars are brittle. The sun is a sometime friend. And the world has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, till spring.” – Cynthia Rylant, In November