My Brother's Keeper
Bloomsbury continue their partnership with the National Archives with some new titles to mark the centenary of World War One including this short fiction from a solid voice in children's writing: Tony Bradman in a collaboration with his son Tom. Bradman has a great eye for cinematic moments and he manages to cram a lot into short text without ever weighing it down. Enthusiastic Alfie's story zips along as he signs up to the war effort aged only 15 and finds himself in foreign fields and dirty trenches. Lives are lost and Alfie starts to realise how futile their missions are. Feeling disposable and frightened, Alfie must decide to own up to his lie and be sent home safely or face the terror of another raid on the German trenches.
Alfie's story has obvious subject appeal for boys and the length is enticing for reluctant readers, but this neat little story manages to be both thought-provoking and moving, and in the barrage of solider stories coming out this year this is a small but strong offering.