Remember that stack of graphic novels I mentioned on Thursday? I just read another one from that pile, mostly in a desperate attempt to render a few library books returnable (we have 201 currently checked out, and yes, I know I have a problem.) Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War is a true story simply told; the author was five when he and a group of his schoolmates were abducted by a rebel group to be trained to fight. At the time, the turmoil in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was escalating, and Michel’s father was a strong advocate for human rights; luckily, Michel escaped the rebels, but their country was becoming unsafe for him and his family. He ultimately found refuge in America with his mother and two of his sisters (his father and his third sister, sadly, were not so fortunate), where he was encouraged to tell his story. This book is one of Michel’s efforts to educate young people about the tragedies that take place in our world–and to rally them to do what they can to help.
How did I feel about it? Hmmm. It was powerful, and accessible, and it serves his purpose well; I was riveted. I cannot, however, give it to my 9-year-old. Some of the situations portrayed are just a bit too harsh for her age and personality to encounter yet. The recommended audience is 10-14, and I’d stick with that. For the right age and reader, it’s completely worthwhile, but be aware–this is NOT light reading.