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The Button War: A Tale of the Great War by…

The Button War: A Tale of the Great War

by Avi

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8619226,098 (3.7)3
Patryk and Jurek are as much friends as rivals in the small Russian-occupied Polish village where they live. When, in August 1914, Patryk finds an old button on the forest floor, Jurek becomes wildly jealous. Not long after, World War I comes to Poland, bringing one invading army after another to the village. Jurek devises an exciting dare among the seven boys in their pack: whoever steals the best military button will be Button King. The boys agree. The contest is on. The competition escalates from stealing uniform buttons on a wash line to looting the bodies of dead soldiers to setting up an ambush. Leading the charge is Jurek, who will do anything to be Button King. It's only Patryk who tries to stop Jurek's increasingly dangerous game before it leads to deadly consequences.… (more)



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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 |
Patryk and his friends live in a small Polish village occupied by the Russians. The Germans drop a bomb on the village, and then invade. Patryk and his friends have a dare, and the winner is the one who steals the best button from the soldiers. Determined not to let Jurek win, Patryk continues playing the game, despite the destruction and death that is occurring around them.

I thought this book left a lot to be desired. Patryk and his friends seemed more like eight year olds than the twelve years olds they were supposed to be. There was no real ending or conclusion to the book. An epilogue or something was sorely needed. Overall, a bust. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Apr 25, 2019 |
Poland, 1914. In a small village, Patryk and his friends do everything together. The first airplane Patryk has ever seen drops a bomb on his school. This is the beginning of the German advancement to push the Russian army out of the village. One friend, Jurek, shows the others a button from a German soldier and challenges the others to a competition: the one who finds the best button becomes king. Not only do events turn tragic, the other boys come to realize that Jurek is dangerous and that the game is not a game at all. ( )
  ChristianR | Jan 10, 2019 |
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