Off To War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children
Ages 9 +
With Off To War: Voices of Soldiers' Children author and peace activist Deborah Ellis (“The Breadwinner” trilogy) once again confirms her reputation as a writer who excels at examining and translating the plight of children caught up in war in a way that is both accessible and challenging to young readers. Moving away from the painful war-torn and disease-ravaged scenarios of some of her previous books, Off to War focuses instead on the effects of the war In Iraq and Afghanistan on those who stay home, namely the children of deployed American and Canadian soldiers.
Ellis’ own voice and views are kept in check as the children speak - which adds to the impact of their words. Her interviews, organized as 27 chapters (some of them featuring different kids from the same family), give young people of different backgrounds and ages a forum in which to voice their experiences and fears associated with having a parent soldier. Whereas their experiences are similar in many ways (they talk about their unexpected added responsibilities within the family; their fear of not seeing their parent(s) again; their concerns about how things will be when/ if they come home), they vary greatly when it comes to their understanding, support or repudiation of war.
The book, which includes black and white photos of its subjects, succeeds on many levels, including encouraging hard thinking on the part of its readers about the why‘s and how’s of war and peace. Its many voices offer plenty of opportunities for us to see things from different perspectives and to realize the complexity of the issues touched upon.
Off to War would make a perfect addition to a "Peacemaking" unit, where the questions it's likely to provoke can be discussed and explored more deeply.
Royalties from Off to War are being donate to the Children in Crisis Fund of IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People.