WAR GAME by Michael Foreman


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Age Range: 8 & up
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 In the same format as Foreman's fine book about his early childhood on the British home front during WW II (War Boy, 1990), this fictionalized depiction of WW I (1993 Smarties Book Prize winner) is also based on family history: The four uncles whose experiences Foreman portrays here all died in the war. First seen playing a carefree game of soccer, they enlist during 1914's patriotic fervor, vividly recalled in guilt-inducing slogans on recruitment posters. In a narrative that derives considerable irony from its very simplicity, Foreman follows the four boys through the euphoria of training to the grim life in the trenches and a Christmas cease-fire, when German and English soldiers ``agreed that they should take the opportunity to bury the dead'' with a ``joint burial service,'' exchanged gifts, and played ball. Foreman's splendid watercolors--more impressionistic than those in War Boy--vividly convey the scene while also evoking the sensations of life in the trenches. Though the bloodshed is muted in the illustrations, Foreman's conclusion underscores the tragedy: As carnage resumes after the generals extinguish the flicker of peace, a poignant series of spreads portrays the death, in a quiet fall of snow, of the first of the four--Will, 18. A thoughtful and beautifully wrought book, powerful in its understatement. (Picture book. 8+)

Pub Date: April 7th, 1994
ISBN: 1-55970-069-X
Page count: 72pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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