What an excellent short novel this is for young people and a timely reminder that it takes courage to refuse to fight.
Matt is in Year 8 and because of his family situation – his father is working overseas and his mother is having a difficult pregnancy – goes to stay with his grandparents on an organic dairy farm. His new class has six students and the whole school makes up one bus load. This is a massive change for him.
A school project on a family member who becomes a hero stirs up people in a way that only happens in small communities where history is never forgotten. Helped by his grandparents Matt chooses to write about Archie Baxter, (father of James K. Baxter) a conscientious objector in World War 1 one hundred years ago. Archie’s resistance is astonishing and the story not dissimilar to David Hill’s My Brother’s War, but told in simpler fashion. Matt’s topic disturbs the community and his school friends, and some testing conflicts take place.
This is also a story of growing up, of relationships between old and young, of differences between city and country and of course the girl/boy stuff that emerges with puberty.
Easy to read, big font size and perfect for the reluctant reader. This first novel will really surprise you.
Bob’s Book Blog 2015: Children & Young Adult Book