cover image War Game

War Game

Michael Foreman. Arcade Publishing, $16.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-242-3

Dedicated to the memory of four uncles who died in WW I, Foreman's moving, informative follow-up to War Boy is crammed with concrete details and permeated with emotion. Freddie, Billy, Lacey and Will, youths from the English countryside, find themselves caught up in the euphoria of flag-waving and patriotism when war breaks out in 1914. From every mailbox, every wall, posters demand devotion to king and country; reproductions of these posters alternate with Foreman's understated watercolors. Amid cheers and jubilation, the four sign up. Their excitement is palpable as they head off to France, and the sensitive illustrations distill their sense of adventure. ``We'll be back by Christmas,'' they think, but are met at the front with gunfire, rain, mud, hunger and death. Hope reigns anew on Christmas Day, when the Germans and the ``Tommies'' play soccer, exchange gifts and greetings, but it is short-lived. Foreman draws the many sides of war with heartbreaking clarity as he transmutes the personal experiences of his uncles into a universal story. Artwork shimmers with the luster of memory and fellow-feeling; a gentle gleam rises even from military hardware, which serves to both soften and highlight the horror of war. History springs to life in this admirable work, the 1993 winner of Britain's Smarties Book Prize. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)