Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Archie's War: My Scrapbook of the First World War

Archie's War: My Scrapbook of the First World War

Marcia Williams
Novelty Book
For ages 8 to 10
Candlewick, 2007   ISBN: 978-0763635329

Archie's uncle Colin has sent him a scrapbook to draw and write in. Since Archie loves to draw comic strips and since he does not have much in the pocket money department, Archie is delighted with the gift. In no time at all he - with the help of his friend Tom - is filling the pages with comic strips about his family, his home, and his life.

During Baby Billy's first birthday party Archie's sister Ethel comes home after attending a peace rally. She does not believe that Britain should join the war in Europe and she is not afraid to say so. Dad and Grandma Albright have a very different opinion, and a row breaks out. With the exception of Ethel, everyone is eager to "do our bit" should Britain enter the war.

On the 4th of August, 1914 Britain declares war on Germany. At first all Archie enjoys the excitement, playing war games with his friends. The war does not seem real at all. Archie thinks air raid drills are "fun," and he enjoys the letters that the family gets from Uncle Teddy, who has joined up. But as the war progresses things become a lot less "fun" and a lot more "scary." Zeppelins bomb London and Archie's family members move their beds downstairs where they hope they will safe if a bomb drops nearby.

When they get a telegram saying that Uncle Teddy has been killed in action Archie really sees that being at war is not like "being in a comic strip." Instead it is frightening and painful. To make matters worse, Archie's father and Uncle Derek are now in France doing their duty. Will Archie's war get worse than it already is?

These days not many people know what took place during World War I and they certainly don't know what it was like to be an English child during that terrible time. Now children can read this book and they will discover how hard things were in England during the war years. For poorer families like Archie's there were severe food shortages, and there was that ever present fear of bombings. Then there were the casualties. For the people at home there was the constant worry that their husband, father, son, uncle, cousin, or friend would not be coming home.

Marcia Williams truly gets inside the mind and heart of her boy character. Using humor, her wonderful comic style art, and the authentic looking presentation on the pages, Marcia Williams takes her readers back in time. The book looks like a real scrapbook, with letters to open, postcards to read, period items which have been ?glued' to the pages and so much more. Readers will find themselves getting emotionally attached to Archie and his family, which is a real sign that Marcia Williams has created a meaningful and memorable book.