Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his school-yard soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Against the odds, Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world, and this book is part of that effort. Told in the first person and presented in a graphic novel format, the gripping story of Michel's experience is moving and unsettling. But the humanity he exhibits in the telling, along with Claudia Dávila's illustrations, which evoke rather than depict the violent elements of the story, makes the book accessible for this age group and, ultimately, reassuring and hopeful. The back matter contains further information, as well as suggestions for ways children can help. This is a perfect resource for engaging youngsters in social studies lessons on global awareness and social justice issues, and would easily spark classroom discussions about conflict, children's rights and even bullying. Michel's actions took enormous courage, but he makes clear that he was and still is an ordinary person, no different from his readers. He believes everyone can do something to make the world a better place, and so he shares what his father told him: ?If you ever think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.?
Jessica Dee Humphreys has worked with several girls' rights organizations, including Save the Children and the United Nations Development Fund for Women. She is the co-author of a number of bestselling books, including Roméo Dallaire's Waiting for First Light and They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. Jessica is also the co-author of the award-winning CitizenKid graphic novel Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War, with Michel Chikwanine.
Graphic designer and children's illustrator Claudia Dávila was born in Chile and now makes her home in Toronto. She was formerly the art director of Chirp and Chickadee magazines.
The narration includes enough history of the Congo to give context to the personal story, while the back matter provides more information about child soldiers.
An unforgettable book that provides factual information about civil wars and especially child soldiers.
Graphic in format but not detail ...The visual element gives this memoir particular immediacy for audiences who "don't understand what is happening right now, to kids just like them."
... Child Soldier conveys Michel's horrific experience with sensitivity, insight, and skill ... also providing readers with relevant information about the geography and history of the country.
—Quill & Quire, Starred Review
... an eye-opening and heartbreaking account of Chikwanine's kidnapping at the age of five.
—Quill & Quire
... the direct first-person narration lays bare the boy's confusion and pain ...[while] Dávila's panel sequences temper the story's atrocities ...
An enlightening, accessible, and, above all, child-friendly introduction to the issue.
—School Library Journal, Starred Review