Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 15
- Grade: 7 to 12
- Reading age: 12 to 15
Short-listed for the 2014 Forest of Reading - White Pine Award for Non-Fiction
Canada was young during the First World War, and with as many as 20,000 underage soldiers leaving their homes to join the war effort, the country’s army was, too. Jim, at 17, was one of them, and he penned countless letters home. But these weren’t the writings of an ordinary boy. They were the letters of a lad who left a small farming community for the city on July 15, 1915, a boy who volunteered to serve with the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
Jim’s letters home gloss over the horrors of war, focusing instead on issues of the home front: of harvesting, training the horses, and the price of hogs. Rarely do these letters, especially those to his mother and father, mention the mud and rats, the lice and stench of the trenches, or the night duty of cutting barbed wire in no man’s land. For 95 years his letters remained in a shoebox decorated by his mother.
Jim was just 18 when he was wounded and died during the Battle of the Somme. Hold the Oxo! tells the story that lies between the lines of his letters, filling in the historical context and helping us to understand what it was like to be Jim.
About the author
Marion Fargey Brooker has spent many years writing dramas, historical, and human interest stories for educational radio for Grades 1-12. She is the author of Thin Ice and Noreen and the Amazing No-Good Horse. She lives in Edmonton.
- Short-listed, Forest of Reading - White Pine Nonfiction
- Commended, Dewey Divas and the Dudes
...gives an accurate and meaningful account of war. As a result, one can't help but sympathize with the young men who volunteered to fight in a war the didn't really comprehend and for the many, like Jim, who never came home...(the) writing is clear and easy to understand and perfect for the intended readership.
Hold the Oxo! very clearly demonstrates what war in the trenches means and how so many nations were stripped of their youth before they had an opportunity to truly comprehend their place in greater society.
Hold the Oxo! A Teenage Soldier Writes Home (Canadians at War)Hold the Oxo! A Teenage Soldier Writes Home is the story of 17-year-old Jim Fargey who volunteered to serve Canada in the First World War. His mother saved his many letters home, and now his niece, author Marion Fargey Brooker, has taken those letters and surrounded them with the historical context needed to help us to understand what it must have been like to serve in this war. Jim’s letters to his mother rarely told of the true hardships he faced, but the text, photos, sidebars and poems that accompany those letters reveal a much bleaker picture of what he must have experienced. Jim was only 18 when he was wounded and died during the Battle of the Somme. Letters from his friend, the nurse who tended him and the preacher who read him his last rites tell us what a wonderful young man he was, and must have been both difficult and comforting for his mother to read.
Written for students in the intermediate and senior grades, this historical account of World War I is both moving and fascinating. Marion Fargey Brooker has presented the facts about the war in a concise manner that will enable students to better understand the events that took place. At the back of the book, she has included a timeline to help students put events in context and she has listed resources to help those who wish to do further research. Structuring the book around the letters from Jim will help students to relate better to this period and give them a better appreciation of what these young men were thinking and feeling as they lived their lives in the trenches.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2012. Volume 35 No. 1.
Hold the Oxo! A Teenage Soldier Writes Home (Canadians at War)Seventeen-year-old Jim Fargey volunteered to serve for Canada in the First World War. Jim’s letters to his mother rarely told of the true hardships he faced, but the text, photos, sidebars and poems that accompany those letters reveal a much bleaker picture of what he must have experienced and help us to understand what it must have been like to serve in that war.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.