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Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world beyond his tiny Polish village that the Russians have occupied for as long as anyone can remember. As the Germans begin to take control, Jurek, the ringleader of his friends, devises a dare to steal the buttons from German soldiers' uniforms that begins to spin out of control as Jurek raises the stakes.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.90
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 195061
Kirkus Reviews (04/15/18)
School Library Journal (05/01/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/06/18)
The Hornbook (00/09/18)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/15/2018 There are seven of them, Patryk reports: himself and six friends, all 11 or 12 years old; they aren’t a gang, he continues, but “more like a flock of wild goats.” They live in a small Polish village in the year 1914. Jurek is their de facto leader, boasting (falsely) that he is a descendant of Boleslaw the Brave, the ancient king of Poland. The boys’ lives change dramatically when an airplane appears and bombs their school, evidencing that war has come to the village. The occupying Russians flee in the face of a German advance. Meanwhile, another sort of war has come—a button war. For at Jurek’s instigation, the boys agree to steal buttons from the soldiers; the one with the best button will become king. But it’s an increasingly dangerous game as, one by one, the boys are killed. Who will survive to become “king?” The award-winning Avi has turned in another solid performance, bringing history alive with a clever plot, a powerful, anti-war theme, and characters as memorable as his story. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2018 Gr 5–8—Avi's intense and cautionary novel is a psychological thriller set in a hardscrabble Polish village during World War I. Patryk, the 12-year-old narrator, is one of a group of boys who meet nightly at the village water pump to share news and plan adventures, most of which are harmless dares. But on the night the Germans drop a bomb on the local schoolhouse, their lives are changed forever. A troubled boy named Jurek, whose parents died years earlier and who lives with his older sister, challenges his friends to steal the shiniest and most intricately designed military button. The winner, according to Jurek, will be the king. The king of what is unimportant to Jurek, a boy anxious to have control over something in his life. Patryk recognizes the danger of Jurek winning; he has seen glimpses of Jurek's cold heart and knows the danger he poses. But when the contest has tragic consequences, Patryk is torn between his loyalty to his friends and his conscience. One by one, the group of boys, described by Patryk as a "flock of wild goats," pays a price for their willingness to follow the rules of Jurek's reckless game. The culminating scene in a forest blurs the lines between the "button war" and the real war raging around them. VERDICT Avi has written a compelling and tautly constructed book that is a portal to grappling with the complexity of the human instinct to compete. Highly recommended.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.