Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell

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Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Heartbreaking story of the final day of World War I, following boy soldiers from Britain, America and Germany. Beautiful research illuminates a gripping story. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408826232

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It's 2am in Paris on Tuesday 11th November 1918. Negotiations for ending World War I are almost complete and both sides will announce the Armistice at 11am. But the people actually fighting the war don't know that yet.

Will Franklin is an underage British Tommy. He joined up aged just sixteen. He hasn't seen any action yet but his brother, the platoon sergeant, has. And Will is afraid. He has seen horrible injuries. Dead bodies. He's exhausted from marching. Even so, Will wants to do his duty. Eddie Hertz is an American pilot. He has four "kills" to his name. One more and they'll call him an ace. Eddie comes from a wealthy family and likes a bit of glamour. He wears a French girl's perfumed silk scarf as a token. Ironically, Eddie's parents are German immigrants to the States and Eddie speaks fluent German.

Axel Meyer would be familiar to Will. And vice versa. Axel is also a sixteen-year-old novice to war. He hasn't seen any action yet either. But he has also seen injury and death. He has also marched for miles on poor rations. He's a loyal German but, like Will, Axel is beginning to question what his leaders are saying, and even why the world is fighting at all.

Over the last day of World War I, these three boys will find their fates connected. Can they all make it out alive?

As ever, Paul Dowswell has written a book chock full of accurate and illuminating historical detail. There isn't a better researcher or educator in children's literature. Eleven Eleven paints a vivid picture of what it was like for young boys on both sides of the Great War. How it was to be a Tommy, smoking out lice from the seams of uniforms whilst sitting in damp, dark trenches. How it was to be a pilot, dropping bombs and shooting down enemy planes, but maintaining a sense of honour and fair play that seems so discordant to modern readers. How it was to be a German soldier, starving at home and at the front. Seeing defeat but being told of victory.

It's tense and exciting, but sad and shocking. And readers really will see there were no victors in this terrible war. They'll root for all three protagonists, regardless of nationality. And hopefully, they will see there is always a better way.

If you want to read more fiction illuminating World War I, you should look at Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, the story of two brothers and a horrible injustice. There's also Archie's War by Marcia Williams, a fabulous book.

Buy Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell at Amazon.com.


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