The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War

The Great War
Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War
By: David Almond, John Boyne, Tracy Chevalier, Ursula Dubosarsky, Timothée de Fombelle
Narrated by: Nico Evers-Swindell, JD Jackson, Gerard Doyle, Richard Halverson
Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
Release date: 04-14-15

I’m not sure why I picked up this audiobook, I’ve never been a “War Buff,” but I think the idea of the story being told based on items that had some significant value or importance in the war and the people affected by the item and the war was an interesting perspective.  This gave the book a more personal appeal.  

Some of the items that prompted a story are, a war-effort plate, a helmet with a hole in it, a writing kit, etc.  Each author was given an item and to write the story around/about that item.  My favorite being the helmet.

The story involving the helmet talks about how the helmet (with a hole in it) was used as a planter, and as a toy by a young boy to pretend he was in the war.  This story sticks out to me because of how the helmet came to be in possession of it and how, until a kid doing a project for school, it had served a mundane purpose.  The boy learns of his family member who originally wore the helmet and maybe a bit more about the human condition.

This book about the Great War does have some war stories, but it is much more than that.  It explores not only the war but how it affected regular people.  (wives, mothers, sons, friends)  The book doesn’t glorify or damn war, but merely gives it a human connection.  

A simple pencil in this book, has so much more surrounding it.  I would highly recommend this book to any high school wanting to teach more than just dates and places, but also the philosophy of it all, the human condition.  

Publisher’s Summary

In a powerful collection, eleven internationally acclaimed fiction writers draw on personal objects to bring the First World War to life for listeners of all ages.

A toy soldier. A butter dish. A compass. Mundane objects, perhaps, but to the remarkable authors in this collection, artifacts such as these have inspired stories that go to the heart of the human experience of World War I. Each author was invited to choose an object that had a connection to the war – a writing kit for David Almond, a helmet for Michael Morpurgo – and use it as the inspiration for an original short story. What results is an extraordinary collection, illustrated throughout by the award-winning Jim Kay and featuring photographs of the objects with accounts of their history and the authors’ reasons for selecting them. A blend of fiction and real-life events, this unique anthology provides young listeners with a personal window into the Great War and the people affected by it, and serves as an invaluable resource for families and teachers alike.

©2014 Walker Books Ltd., first U.S. edition published by Candlewick Press. (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. “Our Jacko” © 2014 by Michael Morpurgo. “Another Kind of Missing” © 2014 by A. L. Kennedy. “Don’t Call It Glory” © 2014 by Marcus Sedgwick. “The Country You Called Home” © 2014 by John Boyne. “When They Were Needed Most” © 2014 by Tracy Chevalier. “A World That Has No War in It” © 2014 by David Almond. “A Harlem Hellfighter and His Horn” © 2014 by Tanya Lee Stone. “Maud’s Story” © 2014 by Adèle Geras. “Captain Rosalie” © 2014 by Timothée de Fombelle; translation © 2014 by Sam Gordon. “Each Slow Dusk” © 2014 by Sheena Wilkinson. “Little Wars” © 2014 by Ursula Dubosarsky.