Some children are born and raised in a world of war and tyranny. For years, schoolchildren in Belfast, for example, passed armed guards on their way to their classrooms. Outdoor play was limited by terrorist attacks from both parties to the political unrest.

Books for children and young adults chronicle each era of history, particularly wars and terror that impact young lives. Rosemary Sutcliff re-created life in early Britain in a series ("The Eagle of the Ninth," "The Silver Branch" and "The Lantern Bearers") set during Roman rule over the British. Stories about colonial America, such as "Matchlock Gun," portray conflicts between white settlers and American Indians where resolution was not always easily reached.

Fiction from the Revolutionary era ("Johnny Tremain" and "My Brother Sam Is Dead") outline the difficult choices of the patriots and the loyalists. Historical fiction of the 19th century is full of stories of the Civil War. Examples include "Across Five Aprils" and "Look Homeward Hannalee," which offers insights into the human condition while treating the political issues of the time. "Shades of Gray" tells about the aftermath of the Civil War from a young person's viewpoint.

Gloria Skurzynski ("Goodbye Billy Radish"), Margaret Roskowski ("After the Dancing Days") and Dean Hughes ("Soldier Boys") have written about World War I.

"Under the Blood Red Sun" and "Hiroshima No Pika" describe the effects of World War II, while "The Endless Steppe" and "Number the Stars" portray the German resistance.

War stories for young readers did not end with World War II. Conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, Ireland and the Middle East have been settings for historical fiction popular among readers. While the common denominator in these novels is the war itself — many depicting inhumanity to others and the treacherous nature of war — they also portray acts of bravery, humanity and courage. The underlying message in each book is that war is not a glamorous tournament with winners and losers. Everyone loses in the game of war!


E-MAIL: marilou.sorenson@worldnet.att.net