Archie’s War: My Scrapbook of the First World War 1914-1918 by Marcia Williams

Archie’s War: My Scrapbook of the First World War 1914-1918 by Marcia Williams is the story of ten-year-old Archie Albright, who receives a scrapbook from his uncle Colin.  Archie is a boy living in East London, England, who’s in love with drawing and comics, and he’s a got a best friend named Tom and a dog named Georgie.  In the book he explains a little bit about his family, particularly his 16-year-old sister’s interest in voting.  Once talk about Austria declaring war on Serbia begins, Archie’s house becomes divided with his grandmother and father in favor of Britain entering the war, and his sister against the war and eager for peace to remain.  Once Germany invades Britain’s ally Belgium, Britain has little choice but to enter the war.  Archie’s scrapbook includes a nice break down of which countries were allied with Germany and which were allied with Britain, and it includes copies of news articles reminiscent of the time period.  Plus, there is a running body count, which is something that young boys would likely keep track of.

Unlike other scrapbooks that merely use memorabilia and newspaper articles, etc. to depict the time period and the events in the story, Williams has incorporated comics as a young boy would draw them, complete with images of his family in hilarious poses, slapping and biting of siblings, and other typical family events of the time period.  Even in spite of Archie’s jokes and comics, it is clear that the war has him rattled as adults talk about German residents as if they could be spies.  He even pees out the window of his room rather than go to the outside bathroom to avoid a German attack, though when his grandmother finds out about his antics, he’s scolded and yet resolved to continue peeing out the window rather than go outside.

There are other more serious moments, like when Archie’s father goes off to war with his Uncle Derek and his mother and older brother begin working outside the home.  Nurse Edith Cavell‘s story is depicted in comic form as well, with Archie saluting her bravery.

Archie’s War: My Scrapbook of the First World War 1914-1918 by Marcia Williams is a fun way to introduce WWI to kids and provides parents an interactive tool to teach history to children in a way that will not bore them.  The colorful drawings are things that children can easily relate to, and the newspaper clippings provide the book a nuanced historical accuracy.  Williams does well including letters and mementos as well as stories that accurately depict the times of rationing, women heading to work outside the home, soldiers dying or returning shell shocked, and more.  Archie’s world changes before his eyes, and he can do little else but roll with the punches and record his family’s history.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Marcia Williams is famous for her retellings of classic stories. From Shakespeare and Dickens to the Canterbury Tales and Greek Myths, her humorous comic-strip illustration is hugely popular all over the globe. She lives in London.  Visit her fun Website.

This is my 11th book for the WWI Reading Challenge.




This is my 43rd book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #171

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Cindy’s Love of Books.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Archie’s War by Marcia Williams, which I bought.

2. The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman, which I received from Algonquin and will be finding a new home for.

3. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, which I received unexpectedly from William Morrow.

4. Sacre Blue by Christopher Moore from William Morrow. I cannot tell you how excited I am to read this one!

5. Listening to Africa by Diana M. Raab from the poet.

6. Oklahoma City by Andrew Gumbel & Roger G. Charles from William Morrow unexpectedly.

7. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick from Novel Places for Book Club.

8. Ashes by Ilsa Bick from Novel Places for Book Club.

9. The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen from the publisher for review in April.

What did you receive?