An Unexpected Hero by L.P. Hansen.
What an excellent short novel this is for primary and intermediate children and a timely reminder that it takes courage to refuse to fight.
Matt is in year 8 and because of his family situation – his father is working overseas and his mother is having a difficult pregnancy – goes to live with his grandparents on an organic dairy farm. His school has 6 students in year 8 and a bus load of kids in the whole school. This is a massive change for him.
A school project about a family member or acquaintence who is a hero stirs up history in a way that only happens in small communities where history is never forgotten.
With the help of his grand parents Matt chooses to write about Archie who was a conchie 100 years ago in World War 1. His story of resistence is astonishing and not dissimilar to David Hill’s My Brothers War but told in simpler fashion. This stirs up the community and his school friends and some interesting conflicts take place.
This is also a story of growing up, of relationships between old and young, of differences between city and country and of course the girl/boy stuff that emerges with puberty.
Easy to read, big font size and perfect for the reluctant reader. This first novel will really surprise you.