My Grandfather’s War by Glyn Harper

My Grandfather’s War

Glyn Harper, Author

Jenny Cooper, Illustrator

EK Books, Fiction, Jun. 12, 2018

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes: Intergenerational relationships, Grandfathers, Vietnam War, Memories, PTSD

Opening: “This is my Grandfather. He came to live with us just after I was born. I call him ‘Grandpa’ but his real name is Robert.”

Synopsis:

Sarah loves spending time with her grandfather, but she knows that there are times when he is sad and keeps to himself. She senses his pain. Curious to find out the cause of her grandfather’s unhappiness, the child innocently asks him questions and unknowingly opens old wounds. Her grandfather is very open with Sarah and tells her about going to war in Vietnam. He tells her that his leg was hurt and that’s why he walks with a limp. But he also shares with her that some of his friends were hurt even more and some even died in Vietnam. He talks about the heat, the jungle and the chemicals that made many sick. He explains that the Vietnamese people didn’t want the soldiers there. When they came home from war no one thanked them for their service. Sarah discovers her grandfather’s sadness is a legacy of the Vietnam War and his experiences there.

Why I like this story:

Glyn Harper, a Professor of War studies, has written My Grandfather’s War to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War’s longest battle, Khe Sanh.  It is a compelling story that sensitively tackles difficult topics about painful memories, PTSD, the legacy of war and the treatment of returning Vietnamese Veterans. It is a story brimming with heart. Harper’s goal is to get children “hooked on history.”

     Courtesy of the publisher.

Jenny Cooper’s illustrations are realistic and expressive. Yet her warm and soft palette of colors is soothing for children.  As Sarah’s grandfather talks about his time in Vietnam, Cooper shows Grandfather’s war memories of the jungle, battle, the reaction of the Vietnamese people to the soldiers presence, and the protests by Americans on opposite pages. The illustrations aren’t frightening and will encourage kids to ask questions about this “unpopular” war.

     Courtesy of the publisher.

There are no books for children about the Vietnam war, as Sarah discovers when she looks in her school library. This is the first book that I’ve seen that delicately explains the war in an age-appropriate manner for children. I am very excited to share this book because my brother, my cousin and many friends spent time in Vietnam, while I was in college dodging protests and the National Guard presence on campus. It was a confusing time for everyone. That’s why this book is an important addition to any school library.

Resources: There is a history of the Vietnam War at the end of the book. This is an opportunity to teach children about the complexities of war, and how it impacts and shapes people’s lives. You see it in the expressions of the grandfather and the people of Vietnam. There is also a Teachers Guide that can be downloaded from EK Books.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Copy provided by the publisher.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

29 thoughts on “My Grandfather’s War by Glyn Harper

  1. What a find! This is the first book I’ve seen about this topic, too. I recall teaching an undergraduate history class while in grad school in the early 1990s & discovering that no one knew anything about the Vietnam War. This book is long overdue!

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  2. Seems to be a great day on PPBF for inter-generational stories. I love it. What an honest look at this history for young children. Wonderful.

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  3. I remember listening to my mother’s emotional memories of fleeing from Germany with my grandmother. She told me about the precious items they had sewn into their undergarments, the few cherished belongings they were able to carry with them, and the many cherished belongings they had to leave behind. Not all stories parents and grandparents share are filled with sunshine, but they are all important parts of our history that need to be told. I’m looking forward to reading My Grandfather’s War.

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  4. This one looks like something my family would enjoy reading. I’m always keen on inter-generational stories, but an added incitement are the illustrations in this book. They’re amazing.

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  5. You did it again Patricia, what a find! I can’t wait to read this one. This will be a great mentor text for a story I’m working on. A history that is definitely worthy of revisiting.

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  6. Grandparents seem to be a theme this week! I look forward to reading this one. Although a weighty topic, it is important that it is know, addressed, and not swept away. Thanks Patricia for highlighting this one.

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    • I agree it is an important war and we kids need to know their grandparent’s stories. This was the war that was prominent for me as a teen and college student. Glad you’ll add it to your collection.

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