Parents' Guide to

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Powerful graphic-novel memoir offers hope, call to action.

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 1 parent review

age 11+

Painful but important

Wow, this is an amazing book if you're trying to introduce your child to difficult, even unimaginable topics. The main character is only 5 when he is a soldier, so I felt very confident sharing the story with my 10 year old. An important lesson in empathy, resilience, and why we need to care about people beyond our borders.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This heartrending, powerfully illustrated graphic novel memoir is a testament to courage, survival, family bonds, and hope amid unimaginably tough circumstances for a child to face. By keeping the focus on Michel and his father's love that pulls him through, readers will be able to relate to Michel as an ordinary kid caught up in extraordinary circumstances and grasp the complex geopolitical realities of this historical moment. They'll also gain an awareness that the horror of child soldiers remains an issue in many countries of the world today.

Illustrator Claudia Davila's varied panels of stylized cartoon-like figures often zoom in close to emphasize the emotions of the characters -- the evil ones as well as the kind and clueless. One panel near the end shows a diverse group of contemporary kids on a city bus in North America (where Michel's lived for 10 years now) with their thought balloons filled with trivial complaints, such as " ... hate my new phone" and " ... pizza was ice cold by the time ... ." And Michel says, "When I first arrived, I thought people here didn't care about the troubles in other countries. But now I know that young people here just don't understand what is happening right now, to kids just like them." This book goes along way toward helping kids understand.

Book Details

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