Kipling's Choice

Overview

On the verge of World War I, author Rudyard Kipling’s son, John, like his father before him, wanted to fight for his country. But when John’s military application was threatened, Rudyard took matters into his own hands, applying all his influence to allow his son to fight in the Great War. And the teenager who had lived his life in comfort and whose greatest concern had been pleasing his father now faced a much greater challenge—staying alive in his first battle.

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Kipling's Choice

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Overview

On the verge of World War I, author Rudyard Kipling’s son, John, like his father before him, wanted to fight for his country. But when John’s military application was threatened, Rudyard took matters into his own hands, applying all his influence to allow his son to fight in the Great War. And the teenager who had lived his life in comfort and whose greatest concern had been pleasing his father now faced a much greater challenge—staying alive in his first battle.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fictionalized account of Lt. John Kipling's untimely death, Spillebeen portrays author Rudyard Kipling as a tragically flawed father, whose fiery patriotism costs him his son's life. The story, set during the Great War, begins when John, severely wounded while fighting on the front in France, lay dying. In his last hours, his mind turns backward, replaying scenes from his childhood and teen years, often centered around his famous father. The series of flashbacks characterize Rudyard as overindulgent and prideful-alternately spoiling and pushing his "undeveloped," son with his "extreme near-sightedness." It is Rudyard who encourages John to "do his part in the war" and who pulls strings to get his 17-year-old son appointed second lieutenant in an Irish regiment after John is found physically unfit by the British army. More reflective than suspenseful, the novel subtly conveys the complexities and ironies of the father/son relationship. Between the lines readers will detect that John desperately needs approval from his father and Rudyard just as desperately wants his son to become what he could never be: a war hero. ("[Rudyard] has big plans for John. The navy, at the very least. His own childhood dream.") Structured as a series of brief memoirs juxtaposed against the harsh realities of war, this first book of Spillebeen's to be translated into English may appeal more to adult Kipling scholars than to middle-grade war-novel buffs. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-The year is 1915, and Great Britain has entered the war against Germany. John Kipling, son of the writer Rudyard Kipling, is wild to join the fray, but nearsightedness prevents him from passing the physical. His father, however, has friends in high places, and a slot with the Irish Guards is arranged for the 18-year-old. The novel shifts points of view from John's pampered upbringing to the horrors of war. In spite of his wealth, inexperience, and youth, he rises to the occasion and makes a decent and selfless officer. At Loos, however, he is seriously wounded and left for dead. Graphic descriptions of chlorine gas, artillery fire, and injuries are plentiful; combat scenes shift back and forth with scenes of John tearing around the countryside on his motorcycle or in "Car-uso," the new automobile from his proud father. As his lifeblood drains into the chalky French soil, the teen remembers friends, family, and events from his past. Unable to speak or to move, he is aware of soldiers, both British and German, robbing him of his identity papers, map, and valuables. This well-written novel combines facts with speculation about John Kipling's short life and gruesome death. A riveting account of World War I, Kipling's Choice could become the next great war novel.-Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"This well-written novel combines facts with speculation about John Kipling’s short life and gruesome death. A riveting account of World War I, Kipling’s Choice could become the next great war novel." School Library Journal, Starred

"This powerful anti-war novel, amde even more powerful by its roots in a famous author's real life and his evolution from war zealot to embittered, broken father, deaerves a place beside All Quiet on the Western Front."—Kirkus, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"The power of this story is in the contrast between the war and the home front. . . . The changing viewpoints reveal the patriotic blather and racism that drove the acclaimed writer to send the boy he loved to die in a war he knew nothing about."—Booklist Booklist, ALA

"The novel subtly conveys the complexities and ironies of the father/son relationship. Between the lines readers will detect that John desperately needs approval from his father and Rudyard just as desperately wants his son to become what he could never be: a war hero."—Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618800353
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/4/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 162
  • Sales rank: 435,856
  • Age range: 12 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Geert Spillebeen lives in Izegem, Belgium, where he is a journalist and radio presenter. This is his first novel published in the United States.

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