Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Brave Soldier

A Brave Soldier

Nicolas Debon
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Groundwood, 2002   ISBN: 978-0888994813

It is 1914 and as Frank is riding home from work one day he hears the news - momentous news - Canada is at war. Frank’s friend Michael is off to join up to become a soldier. After all it will "be easy and we’ll be home by Christmas" Michael says. Not wanting to look like a coward Frank joins Michael and soon they and hundreds of other young men are off to war. The odd thing is that Frank doesn’t really know where he is going or what he is going to fight for - the whole thing is just an adventure.

Or at least that is how it seems for a little while. Once their training is over the Canadians head for the front in France. In the trenches and to the sound of artillery fire Frank, Michael and the others soon realize that this is no adventure - it is a nightmare.

This beautifully illustrated picture book makes no effort to gloss over the horror of war. It is told simply from the point of view of one innocent young man who grows up very fast when he is thrown into a world full of suffering, horror, and death. Millions died in World War I and for many of us these millions don’t have any faces - they are just names or numbers. This book gives just one of the soldiers who went to war a face and a heart and it helps us realize what it must have been like to go into war which everyone thought would be over "by Christmas."