War Stories
by Korman, Gordon

Twelve-year-old Trevor Firestone loves playing war-based video games and he idolizes his great-grandfather Jacob who came home from World War II a celebrated hero; now ninety-three Jacob wants to retrace his journey in memory and reality and return to the small French village that his unit liberated, and Trevor is going with him-but not everyone in the town want Jacob to come, and Trevor is going to learn an important lesson: real war is not a video game, and valor and heroism can be very murky concepts.

Gordon Korman is the #1 bestselling author of three books in The 39 Clues series as well as eight books in his Swindle series: Swindle, Zoobreak, Framed, Showoff, Hideout, Jackpot, Unleashed, and Jingle. His other books include This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! (published when he was 14); The Toilet Paper Tigers; Radio Fifth Grade; Slacker; Restart; Whatshisface; Level 13; the trilogies Island, Everest, Dive, Kidnapped, and Titanic; and the series The Hypnotists and On the Run. Gordon grew up in Thornhill, Ontario and he lives in New York with his family. Visit him online at www.gordonkorman.com.

*Starred Review* WWII is central to 12-year-old Trevor's life because his beloved great-grandfather, G. G., is a hero of the war, having earned a Bronze Star for his participation in the liberation of the French village of Sainte-Regine. Now GG has been invited to return to the village to be honored on the seventy-fifth anniversary of its liberation. Trevor is thrilled when G. G. invites him and his father to come along. Together they'll retrace G. G.'s steps from basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, to the staging area in England to the D-Day beach at Normandy, and, finally, through France to Sainte-Regine itself. Unbeknownst to Trevor, G. G. has been receiving messages from a group calling itself La Vérité threatening him with violence if he comes to Sainte-Regine. But who could possibly want G. G. to stay away and why? Readers will find the answers as Korman's compelling story moves backward and forward in time, recreating the then 17-year-old G. G.'s experiences of the war, which Korman does a remarkably good job of dramatizing. Page-turning suspense builds as Trevor's trip approaches Sainte-Regine. The story is captivating and beautifully realized, as are Korman's characters. Importantly, the book offers an examination of the moral and ethical viability of war that is sure to invite welcome discussion. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Two young people of different generations get profound lessons in the tragic, enduring legacy of war. Raised on the thrilling yarns of his great-grandpa Jacob and obsessed with both World War II and first-person–shooter video games, Trevor is eager to join the 93-year-old vet when he is invited to revisit the French town his unit had helped to liberate. In alternating chapters, the overseas trip retraces the parallel journeys of two young people—Trevor, 12, and Jacob, in 1944, just five years older—with similarly idealized visions of what war is like as they travel both then and now from Fort Benning to Omaha Beach and then through Normandy. Jacob's wartime experiences are an absorbing whirl of hard fighting, sudden death, and courageous acts spurred by necessity...but the modern trip turns suspenseful too, as mysterious stalkers leave unsettling tokens and a series of hostile online posts that hint that Jacob doesn't have just German blood on his hands. Korman acknowledges the widely held view of World War II as a just war but makes his own sympathies plain by repeatedly pointing to the unavoidable price of conflict: "Wars may have winning sides, but everybody loses." Readers anticipating a heavy-handed moral will appreciate that Trevor arrives at a refreshingly realistic appreciation of video games' pleasures and limitations. As his dad puts it: "War makes a better video game....But if you're looking for a way to live, I'll take peace every time." This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace. (Fiction/historical fiction. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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