The Blue Helmet

Bell, William. The Blue Helmet. Toronto: Doubleday, 2006.
Lee wants to join a powerful gang, but when he is caught stealing from an auto supply store, his father sends him to live with his aunt.  Sullen and resentful, his view of life changes when he meets a man who has returned from peace-keeping duties in Bosnia. [Croatia; Toronto, (Ont.); Post-traumatic stress disorder; Aunts; Gangs; Young adult]

Blejwas, Emily. Like Nothing Amazing Every Happened. New York: Delacorte Press, 2020.
Twelve-year-old Justin lives with a mystery: how did his father – a military veteran – die? Was it an accident or suicide? Who will tell him the truth? This 210-page novel portrays the effects of post-traumatic-stress-disorder and the complexities of history in a small Minnesotan town in 1991. Highly recommended for readers 11 to 14 years old. [Grief; School stories; Single-parent families]


Creech, Sharon. Saving Winslow. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
Louie’s father often brings home small animals needing to be rescued. Most of the time, they don’t survive. Louie usually doesn’t have any better luck. The worms he brought home? Dead after two days. The lightning bugs? Dead after three days. But Louie – missing his older brother who is stationed far away as a soldier – is determined. When his father brings home a motherless mini donkey on a cold January morning, Louie decides that this time he will succeed: Winslow will live. Beautifully written and heart-warming, this 165-page novel is most highly recommended for animal lovers 8 to 12 years old.

P.S. Of course, all Sharon Creech stories are amazing works of art. But this one is outstanding in its introduction to themes to encourage conversation between children and adults. How can you love someone if you know they might disappear? How do you regain hope after loss? How can you joyfully help someone fulfill their purpose in life even though it means they will leave you? 

Wild Life

DeFelice, Cynthia. Wild Life. FSG Kids, 2011.
When his parents are deployed to Iraq, Erik is sent off to live with his grandparents in North Dakota.  When he rescues a dog wounded by a porcupine, he is not allowed to keep it. Lonely and confused by all the tension in his new home, he takes his new dog and a shotgun and runs away, determined to live off the land. [Runaways; Dogs; Grandparents; Secrets; Winter; North Dakota; Survival]


Shooting the Moon

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Shooting the Moon. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008.
[Vietnam War; Brothers and sisters; Letters]

Eldridge, Jim. The Trenches. Scholastic, 2002.
[This story] tells story of courage, fearlessness and bravery. Set in Passchendale between 1914 and 1918, it describes the experiences of a bold Billy Stevens who decides to join Word War One as a communications officer. This story kept me entertained on every page. I was excited to see what was going to happen next. It entertained me with its intriguing story line that made me want to turn every page. It informed me about the horrific pictures of war and the things that made it that way. It also informed me more about what people decide to do in the war. During one part, the Germans and Americans exchanged gifts with one another. No gunshots were fired that day. It really made me feel that war is not all violence, blood and killing. Most importantly, the book has changed how I see the world. What would the world have been like if Germany had won the war? How would our lives be different today if that happened? If you like books that bring bravery, courage and fearlessness to you, you will love this story. (Carter in grade eight)

Purple Heart

McCormick, Patricia. Purple Heart. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2009.
While recuperating in a Baghdad hospital from a traumatic brain injury sustained during the Iraq War, eighteen-year-old soldier Matt Duffy struggles to recall what happened to him and how it relates to his ten-year-old friend Ali. (CIP) For mature readers only due to subject matter and language. [Iraq; Friendship; Young adult]

McKay, Sharon E.  Charlie Wilcox. Toronto:  Penguin Group, 2008.
[World War I; Newfoundland and Labrador; Stowaways]


Myers, Walter Dean. Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
An American soldier faces combat in the jungles of Vietnam in this picture book illustrated with collages.


Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise Over Fallujah. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008.
Eighteen-year-old Robin Perry is an American soldier in Iraq. Far from his home in Harlem, he discovers war isn’t so much heroic as confusing: orders change inexplicably, people die unexpectedly and nothing seems to make any sense. All he feels is constant fear. Fighting a war isn’t anything at all like playing video games. Set in 2003, this novel explains some of the politics of war while showing the grittiness of army life and is suitable only for mature students in grade eight and up.

Park's Quest

Paterson, Katherine. Park’s Quest. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988.
Eleven-year-old Park wants to learn more about his father who was killed in Vietnam. So his mother lets him visit his grandfather in Virginia, where he discovers more than he expected. [Virginia; Vietnam War; Fathers and sons; Grandfathers; Secrets]

The Car

Paulsen, Gary. The Car. San Diego : Harcourt Brace, 1994.
Fourteen-year-old Terry wakes up one morning to discover that his parents have disappeared. The next day, his mother calls and says that she is tired of fighting with his father and is not coming back.  She hangs up and his father calls. He is tired of being married to his mother and is not coming back. He hangs up, leaving Terry alone in a shabby rented house with only a little over a thousand dollars he has saved up from mowing lawns and a car kit his father does not want. Terry has his own mechanic’s set of tools, so he builds the car and sets off, leaving Ohio behind and heading west to find his uncle in Oregon.  But on the way, he meets two Vietnam War veterans who change his view of life.  A young adult novel with some swearing and realistic references to the violence of war, this novel will be appreciated by readers of Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers, Shattered by Eric Walters and Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick. It might be helpful to look at the picture book Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers before reading this memorable story by rightly acclaimed author Gary Paulsen. [Soldiers; Vietnam conflict; Automobiles; Voyages and travels; Young adult fiction]

Bamboo People

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge, 2010.
Chiko has been forced to join the Burmese army.Tu Reh has run away from a refugee camp to join his father fighting with the Karen people against the Burmese government. The two boys unexpectedly meet in the jungle.  What will happen? This young adult novel of compassion and hope set in Myanmar is recommended for readers 12-years-old and up, especially ones who appreciated War Brothers by Sharon McKay and Shattered by Eric Walters.  [Fathers and sons; Burma; Survival; Soldiers; Refugees; War stories; Courage] 

The Sniper

Riordan, Rick. The Sniper. Frances Lincoln, 2008.
[This novel] was a thrilling book about a girl called Tania who grew up in Stalingrad, Russia in WW 2. Her father was a sniper for a general in the war, and she was trying to get her family out of the city until she was told at school that she had to work on anti-aircraft guns and try to shoot down the Nazi planes that were flying over the city. Later, the policemen of the city sent her to the general and he put her in a group of snipers trying to defeat Hitler’s army. What happens in the end? Read this exciting book to find out! (Dane in gr.  7)

I Had Seen Castles

Rylant, Cynthia. I Had Seen Castles. HarperCollins, 1993. 
Going to die, going to die, he thought. Sounds of bombs, screams, and death fill the air as a young 18 year old man named John takes on the war. Taking place in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1939, John is 16 years old and living a normal life until the Japanese army attacks Pittsburg. Buildings are demolished and there are many dead. The “18 and older” war sign-ups are posted throughout the town. John’s friend Tony can’t wait until his 18th birthday so he can use guns and be of help his country. John fears the day that he turns 18 as he is fearing death.
Two years later, as he tripped off the bus, John sees the prettiest girl in school: Ginny. She is of medium build with dark black hair, brown eyes and as John puts it, ” drop dead gorgeous “. Ginny gives John a hand up, they meet and decide to walk home together. John has no clue what to say until Ginny turns away to take a separate road home. John rushes to ask her out to a movie, he gives a big sigh as Ginny simply replies, “Yes”. When John goes to pick Ginny up at her house to go to the movies, he knocks on the door and Ginny’s mother answers the door. She tells John that “Ginny isn’t ready and she’s in her room”. John steps inside and is surprised to learn that they are actually living in a storage unit and Ginny’s room is a closet. John feels embarrassed for the family and sad for Ginny. John’s friend has already joined the army and is on the first bus out. John is puzzled with his friend Tony’s decision. Why go to war and get shot, injured or possibly die? Only one good thing can come from war, a free country. John is scared for his friend and fears his death. After dating Ginny for only two months they fall deeply in love. They want to spend the rest of their lives together. At one point John will have to bring up that terrible word …….. WAR!! John asks Ginny out on their sixth date and they are having a great conversation until John suddenly blurts out the word “war”! “What?” asks Ginny. “War” she yells. They argue for hours until restaurant closing time about whether or not John should go to war. John faces the biggest conflict of his life, whether to go to war and serve his country and be a hero, or to be safe and stay at home and be considered a coward. Two days later, John gets a call from the sergeant saying his close friend Tony has been killed. John feels a part of him has died. Ginny and John decide to separate over the phone and John registers for the war. They agree that after John serves his time in the war, they would find each other marry and move to Paris.
John is on his way to his station on the bus, he arrives at his camp. He is assigned a bed, a very uncomfortable bed. He drops his belongings on the rock hard mattress then sits down and cries. On John’s first day on the battlefield, he already can’t stand the smell and the sounds. Lying down in a trench, watching men beside him being blown away by the explosions. All he hears are gunshots, yells and screams.
One year later, after serving his time at war, John came home to Pittsburg and began looking for Ginny. His search lasted for 8 years, then in 1953 he moved to Paris by himself. Would John ever find the love of his life again? Will he live out his time in Paris alone without Ginny?
I enjoyed this book very much, and I found it to be one of the best books I have ever read. I give this book a 10 out of 10. If you like historic war stories, action and romance, I suggest “I Had Seen Castles” by Cynthia Rylant. (Jayson in gr. 6)

Schmidt, Gary D. Pay Attention, Carter Jones. Boston: Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.

Life can be chaotic and a bit crazy. That’s normal in a busy family with three kids and a father stationed overseas with the U.S. army. Well, it was normal until a bowler-hatted man appears at the door and announces that he has come from England to help them. His former employer, the children’s grandfather, has left a bequest providing the services of a full-time butler. Mr. Bowles does a lot more than keep the household in order. He helps sixth-grader Carter see life from a new perspective and supports the whole family when there’s a painful surprise. A humorous yet serious story recommended for readers 11 years old and up.

Chanda's Wars

Stratton, Chanda’s Wars. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2008.
A teenaged girl, Chanda Kabelo, tries to save her siblings after they are kidnapped and forced ot serve as child soldiers. With an afterward by Romeo Dallaire, Lieutenant-General (Ret.), this vivid fictionalized account is for mature readers only. [Africa; Kidnapping; Child abuse; Brothers and sisters; Orphans; Young adult fiction]

Fly Boy

Walters, Eric. Fly Boy. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2011.
[World War 2; Manitoba; England; Pilots; Young adult]


Walters, Eric. Shattered. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2008.
A wealthy teenager, volunteering at drop-in centre for poor people in Vancouver, B.C., meets a homeless soldier who has returned from witnessing the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Includes a . [Rwanda; Homelessness; Post-traumatic stress disorder]


Walters, Eric. Wounded. Toronto: Puffin, 2010.
Marcus’s father has returned from Afghanistan and family life should be returning to normal. But something is wrong. His father has changed. What has happened? [Afghanistan; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Violence; Young adult; Fathers and sons]

And in the Morning

Wilson, John. And In The Morning. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2003.
This book… was descriptive and didn’t seem like a fiction book. The book is supposed to be a journal of a man named Jim Hay. And he is very exited to go to war. He decides that he wants to go to war but when he gets there, he realizes that it isn’t as great as he thought. He sees some things that he can’t forget. But he doesn’t want to leave the front lines… This book is probably good for people twelve or older. I would rate this book a 7/10. (Kees in gr. 7) [World War 1; France; Diaries]



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