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The Button War: A Tale of the Great War

by Avi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10820210,557 (3.75)3
Renowned, award-winning author Avi pens a stark, unflinching tale of ordinary boys living in wartime as tensions -- and desperations -- mount among them. Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world beyond his tiny Polish village; the Russians have occupied the land for as long as anyone can remember, but otherwise life is unremarkable. Patryk and his friends entertain themselves by coming up with dares -- some more harmful than others -- until the Germans drop a bomb on the schoolhouse and the Great War comes crashing in. As control of the village falls from one nation to another, Jurek, the ringleader of these friends, devises the best dare yet: whichever boy steals the finest military button will be king. But as sneaking buttons from uniforms hanging to dry progresses to looting the bodies of dead soldiers -- and as Jurek's obsession with being king escalates -- Patryk begins to wonder whether their "button war" is still just a game. When devastation reaches their doorstep, the lines between the button war and the real war blur, especially for the increasingly callous Jurek. Master of historical fiction Avi delivers a fierce account of the boys of one war-torn village who are determined to prove themselves with a simple dare that spins disastrously out of control.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Another great historical fiction by Avi - he's been one of my favorite authors since childhood for being able to create captivating story lines and realistic characters. ( )
  Shofbrook | Nov 6, 2020 |
In a Polish village occupied by Rusian troups 12 year old Patryk does not know of the world outside of his village and their Russian overlords. . When the war starts the boys start a game to collect the best button among the military groups in the area. The boy with the best button will be Button King. The game starts out to the boys taking the button off the uniforms while they were drying, to looting bodies, to them planing ambushes. Jjurek wants to keep the game going no matter what and Patryk wants to stop it. ( )
  taralentz | Jul 31, 2020 |
World War 1 books for the middle grade are few and far between. Like all the books Avi writes this one sounds like:

1. It is meant to be read aloud

2. A true story

3. Even though the story may be set long ago and far away the characters seem like they may be your friends.

In Patryck's small Polish village the Russians have taken control of everything. The school was bombed and people are on edge. Things get worse when the Russians leave and the Germans arrive. His group of friends devises a game wherein they attempt to collect buttons from the soldier's uniforms. They are egged on by a bully type boy (Jarek) that none of them like much, but in a small town, everyone your age is a friend of one kind or another.

Neither of the invading armies is particularly beneficial to the town. As Patryck's father says- "They aren't Polish" The adults in the community are just as scared as the kids (understandably so) and no one knows what will happen to them next. The overwhelming fear grows as conditions worsen and there are several deaths.

The overwhelming fear grows as conditions worsen and there are several deaths.

Verdict- Buy ( )
  JennyNau10 | Dec 7, 2019 |
This is a powerfully vivid WWI novel set in Poland. It starts out with a child’s game as the war rages in the background. The game? Who can collect the best buttons taken from the enemies uniforms? One day a plane flies over and the Germans bomb the schoolhouse prompting the long-residing Russian soldiers to leave the little town of Patryk. Patryk is just a small isolated village yet it is Frequented by the comings and goings of military men.

Jurek, the cruel, conniving leader of Patryk’s group of young classmates, declares a daring challenge: whoever procures the best button from a soldier’s uniform gets to be king. Patryk is determined to beat Jurek at his own game, but he is no match for Jurek’s determination to win at all costs, even as the game turns deadly.

The chilling story is told from Patryk’s point of view. The underlying theme is how war can forever alter a child’s or anyone really but in this case it’s the children, sense of order, morality, and security in the world.

The text is very visually depicting with the smoky forest after battle, the soldiers marching in perfect formation, and a chilling final image of Jurek.

Ages 10–14 Historical fiction. A quick read. 540L
  JoTurrentineSorrell | Dec 3, 2019 |
To me, this story is a children's version of World War II.

Whereas the adults were fighting for bloodlines, land, and glory, the kiddos were trying to top one another with the grandest button procured...sound simple? Sound like child's play? Well trust me, it's not. There are still those bragging rights for the one deemed the winner of them all, the power that comes with that coveted spot, and the lording over factor to deal with...depending on who wins. Patryk has a kind heart, but a determined spirit...the former serves him well with his family and friends, the latter may prove his end if he's not careful. It's that determination that drives him to keep playing Jurek's game, to see just who wins the button war, but not so that he can claim king of them all, but rather so Jurek can't. To say he's a bad egg would be like saying the Titanic was merely a boat...he's trouble with a capital "T", the stand-in for our story of that unfortunately memorable dictator we all know and loathe (sports a mustache, likes to stick his arm in the air like he just doesn't care, because he didn't...you know the one). If he wins, they'll be no living with him, and it's already hard enough as it is...but if he loses, now that's an outcome not yet considered, and perhaps just as scary.

It was really interesting to me how the author managed to break down this ginormous event in our history and make it "kid friendly", so to speak. If taken at face value, it's kids battling it out for having the best button, but all the things going on beneath the surface, all the dangers faced, hardships overcome, struggles endured, and lives lost, make it one story that will leave its mark with readers of the Middle Grade set and beyond.


**ARC received for review ( )
  GRgenius | Sep 15, 2019 |
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Renowned, award-winning author Avi pens a stark, unflinching tale of ordinary boys living in wartime as tensions -- and desperations -- mount among them. Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world beyond his tiny Polish village; the Russians have occupied the land for as long as anyone can remember, but otherwise life is unremarkable. Patryk and his friends entertain themselves by coming up with dares -- some more harmful than others -- until the Germans drop a bomb on the schoolhouse and the Great War comes crashing in. As control of the village falls from one nation to another, Jurek, the ringleader of these friends, devises the best dare yet: whichever boy steals the finest military button will be king. But as sneaking buttons from uniforms hanging to dry progresses to looting the bodies of dead soldiers -- and as Jurek's obsession with being king escalates -- Patryk begins to wonder whether their "button war" is still just a game. When devastation reaches their doorstep, the lines between the button war and the real war blur, especially for the increasingly callous Jurek. Master of historical fiction Avi delivers a fierce account of the boys of one war-torn village who are determined to prove themselves with a simple dare that spins disastrously out of control.

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