Cover image for War Is over
War Is over
Physical Description:
115 p. ;

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
Park Grove Library (Cottage Grove)1On Order
Stillwater Public Library1On Order



Transcending its time and period, this moving and lyrical story, beautifully illustrated, explores the fear and hope of children in time of war.

I am just a child. How can I be at war?

It's 1918, and war is everywhere. John's father is fighting in the trenches far away in France, while his mother works in a menacing munitions factory just along the road. His teacher says that John is fighting, too, that he is at war with enemy children in Germany. One day, in the wild woods outside town, John has an impossible moment: a dreamlike meeting with a German boy named Jan. John catches a glimpse of a better world, in which children like Jan and himself can one day scatter the seeds of peace. David Almond brings his ineffable sensibility to a poignant tale of the effects of war on children, interwoven with David Litchfield's gorgeous black-and-white illustrations.

Author Notes

David Almond is the acclaimed author of many award-winning novels for children, including Skellig, The Tightrope Walkers, and The Tale of Angelino Brown . He has also collaborated with many celebrated artists, including Polly Dunbar, Dave McKean, and Oliver Jeffers, on fiction for younger readers. David Almond's books are beloved all over the world, and in 2011 he was the recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. He lives in England.

David Litchfield first started to draw when he was very young, creating comics for his older brother and sister. Since then his work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and books and on T-shirts. His first picture book, The Bear and the Piano, won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. He is the illustrator of When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri. He lives in England.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Taut and teeming with emotion, Almond's historical novel is an affecting portrait of an English boy's perspective on a seemingly endless, unfathomable war. In 1918, John's father has been off fighting in France for so long that John hardly remembers him, and his mother works "overtime, double time" in an enormous munitions factory. Bewildered by his teacher's declaration that "we are all engaged in the fight to defeat the evil German," John "kept on daring to ask himself, 'I am just a child. How can I be at war?' " This question frames other experiences: he watches townsfolk pummel a pacifist, imagines being transported to the front, and has a dreamlike encounter with a German boy who's his same age and height and, John senses, is likewise "yearning for the war to end." The straightforward narrative by Almond (Skellig) juxtaposes moments of violence and beauty: John's mother explains how to fill a shell with shrapnel and resin, then spreads his bread with homemade rose hip jam. Reinforcing the atmosphere are often haunting black-and-white illustrations created by Litchfield (The Bear and the Piano); one especially effective image shows John watching pigeons overhead morph into shrapnel shells. Ages 9--12. (May)

Kirkus Review

A young boy in the north of England wrestles with the repercussions of World War I. John's father is away at the front; his mother works in hazardous conditions at the munitions factory. When John's classmate's uncle, a conscientious objector and therefore outcast, agitates for peace, he is dragged off by the police, leaving behind only some drawings of German children. One escapes destruction by John's classmates--a portrait of a boy called Jan that John secretly saves. Nudging the line between imagination and reality in classic Almond fashion, the deceptively simple third-person narrative describes how John and Jan meet in the dark woods and connect as children who simply long for peace. In scenes enhanced by Litchfield's dreamy, haunting black-and-white illustrations, Almond effectively juxtaposes the contradictions of war: John's warm, loving mother uses her hands both to make rose-hip jam for his bread and to build weapons that will kill other small boys just like him. This slim volume contains depths that adults will wish to explore with young readers, from allusions to "Bread and Roses" to the meaning of the white feathers used to shame pacifists but that the scorned Uncle Gordon proudly claims as things of beauty. The story offers rich material for considering the impact of war on those on the homefront as well as the toll rabid conformity and hatred of the Other takes. A testament to essential humanity. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In 1918, England is at war. Young John, whose father is fighting in the trenches in France and whose mother works at the local munitions factory, cannot remember a time without hostilities and can barely recall his father's face. When his class takes a field trip to the armaments factory, John faints; later, he has a dreamlike encounter with a German boy named Jan and imagines a world where peace reigns. Almond's sparse and deceptively simple prose offers much food for thought. His descriptions of shells and shrapnel (meticulously depicted in black-and-white drawings) are chilling, as are the war games that John's classmates play in the nearby woods. Litchfield's art makes good use of positive and negative space that helps to focus attention on particular objects (such as doves that turn into bombs), as well as convey mood through the use of light and dark. Together with Almond's text, the drawings help to illuminate children's feelings about conflict and should spark conversations about war and peace.