Monday, January 25, 2010

War Games

by Audrey and Akila Couloumbis
New York: Random House, 2009. 232 pgs. Fiction.

Petros and Zola tease and fight with each other, as brothers will do, even with war in the distant background and their cousin a resistance fighter whom all admire. But when the Germans get closer, and then roll right into town, the boys figure out ways to lift morale in the village and help the freedom fighters under cover of their games and work in the garden and on the farm. From Petros himself, a sturdy young boy of a quick intelligence and kind heart, to Fifi the biting goat, War Games is filled with unforgettable, nuanced portraits of Greeks and Germans, children and soldiers, brothers, sisters, parents and friends. Petros is surprised to discover that the German commandant billeted in their home is kind and attentive, and feels bad to have to deceive him. Others of the invaders are not so kindly, as cousin Stavros will discover to his peril. What all the family must do to save themselves from jail or execution makes the narrative suspenseful and captivating. Based on Akila Couloumbis' life in Greece during the Second World War, the felt reality of War Games makes it a fine historical fiction title for all ages.

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