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."
About the Author
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel Chikwanine has experienced civil war, political upheaval and poverty, emerging as an individual wise beyond his years. Forced by these circumstances to leave his home country at the age of 11 as a refugee, Michel has since traveled to 35 African countries, witnessing firsthand the problems faced by the developing world, but also the beauty of the communities and people who live there.@michelchikwan
Jessica Dee Humphreys writes books about things that matter to young people (and grown-ups). Jessie lives with her husband and their little boy in a big city most of the time. But sometimes they live on a tiny island near the woods, where Jessie rereads To Kill a Mockingbird every summer, lying in a hammock.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If he’d only listened to his father, Michel wouldn’t have lost part of his childhood but what he experienced with the rebel soldiers will never be erased from his mind. Michel was five when he was taken with his best friend Kevin by a group of rebel militia while they were playing basketball after school. His father told him to come right home after school but Michel ignored his father words. Military vehicles were a common sight so when they pulled up alongside the court, the boys disregarded them. When boys in ratted clothing emerged setting off their firearms, the boys fell to the ground. Thrown in the back of their trucks with other boys, they went for a ride. They were soon going to be initiated into the militia’s army. Michel tried to stand up for himself but that only led to him becoming the example in the group. The militia used a variety of means to get their recruits to obey including drugs, force, amputation and of course, death. Michel was forced to perform many actions that horrified and ashamed him as the weeks passed in the countryside. Scared, Michel wanted to go home but the recruits were under constant supervision. Finally, Michel sees an opportunity to escape. As he surfaces to the outside world, Michel emerges a changed individual. He is no longer an innocent child, he has a story that no one else has. I thought this was a terrific graphic novel memoir that communicates a great story. The illustrations were wonderfully done, not overly dramatic but using facial expressions and other means, the story is presented nicely. I liked the variety of text fonts that were used as I thought that added to the drama of the story. It is 1993 and there is political turmoil occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Michel is in the middle of it. I was surprised how young Michel was when this story took place. I felt that Michel’s father placed too much responsibility on Michel’s shoulders as I read this novel. Michel’s father is a human rights lawyer and an activist and since Michel is the only son in the family, his father tells him what he wants him to do should the police arrest him. His father had many good words of wisdom that he tells his son and I had to wonder how far Michel would take his father’s advice, his father was a man and Michel was now a child of eight. I felt these expectations were a bit high for a child so young. I did appreciate how this novel talked about the country before the fighting began and why the fighting is taking place. I felt this knowledge set the story up before Michel’s drama began. I felt a good connection with Michel throughout the story and I felt closure at the end. At the end of the novel, there is a current photo of Michel and a short narrative about what Michel is presently doing. There is also a question and answer section about Boys and Girls in War and what individuals can do about it, which I thought was very interesting and thorough. The author also included a list of a few other resources individuals can check out if they are interested in child soldiers. This graphic novel is worth checking out.
Before I go into the review of this book, you have to understand, this is a true account. It is not made up and is currently happening all over the continent of South Africa. It is a graphic children's story but there are things explained that children under the age of ten may not understand. If you wish to share this book with your child, make sue they are of an understanding age. Even then, it will be difficult and they will need you for explanations. Child Soldier, by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys, tells the story of Michel and his life in the Congo. It shows in animation (which is much appreciated) and tells of safe times for children and adults, then of the terrifying times. It tells of conflict, governmental breakdown and the loss of childhood. One day, Michel and childhood friends and family were playing after school when strange men rode up in military vehicles and guns. They harassed the children then took them far from home. They were drugged, abused and forced to do things that no child should ever do or see. It's a sad story, but it's also one of strength... *For the full review: http://tinyurl.com/jl2br3x **Book was provided by Kids Can Press and Shelf Awareness, for an honest review.
This book is part of the CitizenKid Series. This series is a collection of books to inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens. This is the true story of Michel Chikwanine who lived in Democratic Republic of Congo in the 90s. When he was five years old, he was kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier. It is a heartbreaking tale that fortunately had a happy ending. While Michel did have to do some horrible things as a child soldier, including shooting his best friend, he was fortunate enough to escape before anything else terrible happened. He was reunited with his family unlike a lot of child soldiers. His father, nother, himself and a cousin were able to get to Uganda and live in a refugee camp. His father was a political activist who was imprisoned and tortued at one point and later poisoned by his enemies before he was able to emigrate to North America. Michael and his mother were able to leave Congo and emigrate to Canada. Michael worked three jobs after school until he earned enough money to bring one of his siters to Canada, but unfortunately, one sister disappeared. A teacher of Michael's saw that he was very depressed and suggested that talking to other students about his ordeal might help him. This started him on a path to educate young people about Child Soldiers. The end of the book gives more information about the plight of child soldiers as well as what children in Canada can do to help. A great but sad story. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley to read in exchange for an honest review.