Author(s): Sandy McKay
A powerful and moving YA story about two brothers, one of whom goes off to fight in World War One. The author ably conveys how war affects everyone u it's a superb meditation on war and the devastating effects it has on soldiers and their families. It's 1917 and Jack enlists. And although Tom is envious of his elder brother he soon changes his mind as the reality of war becomes more apparent. Tom is almost 13 years old. We follow Jack's story through his letters home and through the eyes of his younger brother. Tom writes about life at home in New Zealand: living with Mum and their young sister, Amy, learning to hunt with his uncle, getting a puppy and learning to knitafor the war effort. Jack writes of his first-hand experience in Trentham, the troopship, Britain, France, the Battle of Messines and finally, Passchendaele. Sadly the story ends with Jack being killed at Passchendaele along with hundreds of other Kiwis. (Of the 180 soldiers in the 2nd Otago Division, 148 lost their lives in one day in New Zealand's worst ever military disaster.) When Our Jack Went to War is a fictional account of a real life tragedy. It is based on the author's research into the death of her own great uncle who died in 1917.
Sandy McKay is an experienced writer for children; she is the author of over 12 titles, most notably, Recycled, My Dad the All Black, Losing It, Stroppy Jockey. She's a recipient of the Dunedin College of Education Writer in Residence, and her books have been short-listed for NZ Post, LIANZA awards and have been listed on Storylines Notable Books. She won the Junior Fiction Category NZ Post Award for Recycled; her landmark book, Losing It was short-listed for the Esther Glen Award and dramatized by Radio NZ.