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5 of 5
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list price: $18.95
edition:Hardcover
published: Sep 2015
ISBN:9781771381260
publisher: Kids Can Press

Child Soldier

When Boys and Girls Are Used in War

by Michel Chikwanine & Jessica Dee Humphreys, illustrated by Claudia Dávila

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military & wars, social activists, africa
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $18.95
edition:Hardcover
published: Sep 2015
ISBN:9781771381260
publisher: Kids Can Press
Description

Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his school-yard soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Against the odds, Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world, and this book is part of that effort. Told in the first person and presented in a graphic novel format, the gripping story of Michel's experience is moving and unsettling. But the humanity he exhibits in the telling, along with Claudia Dávila's illustrations, which evoke rather than depict the violent elements of the story, makes the book accessible for this age group and, ultimately, reassuring and hopeful. The back matter contains further information, as well as suggestions for ways children can help. This is a perfect resource for engaging youngsters in social studies lessons on global awareness and social justice issues, and would easily spark classroom discussions about conflict, children's rights and even bullying. Michel's actions took enormous courage, but he makes clear that he was and still is an ordinary person, no different from his readers. He believes everyone can do something to make the world a better place, and so he shares what his father told him: “If you ever think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”

About the Authors

Michel Chikwanine

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel Chikwanine has experienced civil war, political upheaval and poverty, emerging as an individual wise beyond his years. Forced by these circumstances to leave his home country at the age of 11 as a refugee, Michel has since traveled to 35 African countries, witnessing firsthand the problems faced by the developing world, but also the beauty of the communities and people who live there.@michelchikwan
Author profile page >

Claudia Dávila was born in Chile and raised in Toronto, where she studied Fine Arts at York University. She is now a freelance designer, illustrator, and graphic artist and used to be the art director of chickaDEE and Chirp magazines. She lives in Toronto with her daughter and husband, fellow illustrator Michael Cho.
Author profile page >

Jessica Dee Humphreys writes books about things that matter to young people (and grown-ups). Jessie lives with her husband and their little boy in a big city most of the time. But sometimes they live on a tiny island near the woods, where Jessie rereads To Kill a Mockingbird every summer, lying in a hammock.
Author profile page >
Contributor Notes

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel Chikwanine has experienced civil war, political upheaval and poverty, emerging as an individual wise beyond his years. Forced by these circumstances to leave his home country at the age of 11 as a refugee, Michel has since traveled to 35 African countries, witnessing firsthand the problems faced by the developing world, but also the beauty of the communities and people who live there.@michelchikwan

Jessica Dee Humphreys writes books about things that matter to young people (and grown-ups). Jessie lives with her husband and their little boy in a big city most of the time. But sometimes they live on a tiny island near the woods, where Jessie rereads To Kill a Mockingbird every summer, lying in a hammock.

Graphic designer and children's illustrator Claudia Dávila was born in Chile and now makes her home in Toronto. She was formerly the art director of Chirp and Chickadee magazines.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
10 to 14
Grade:
5 to 9
Editorial Reviews

An enlightening, accessible, and, above all, child-friendly introduction to the issue.—School Library Journal, Starred Review


... an eye-opening and heartbreaking account of Chikwanine's kidnapping at the age of five.—Quill & Quire


The narration includes enough history of the Congo to give context to the personal story, while the back matter provides more information about child soldiers.—Booklist


Graphic in format but not detail ...The visual element gives this memoir particular immediacy for audiences who "don't understand what is happening right now, to kids just like them."—Kirkus Reviews


An unforgettable book that provides factual information about civil wars and especially child soldiers.—Resource Links


... the direct first-person narration lays bare the boy's confusion and pain ...[while] Dávila's panel sequences temper the story's atrocities ...—Publishers Weekly


... Child Soldier conveys Michel's horrific experience with sensitivity, insight, and skill ... also providing readers with relevant information about the geography and history of the country.—Quill & Quire, Starred Review

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Librarian review

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War

Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his schoolyard in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world.

Michel Chikwanine’s heroic escape from the rebel militia and the challenges he faced to make a new life for himself in Canada can help build readers’ understanding of and empathy for those caught in political upheavals. Told in graphic format, the narration, dialogue, and illustrated panels highlight the plight of one child soldier. Information at the back of the book provides some additional information and statistics about young people forced into armed war. Moreover, the text invites students to consider what they can do about such harrowing injustice.

Also available: This Child, Every Child by David J. Smith

This author is available for class visits. @michelchikwan

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

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