Marshmallow, just like Caramel, enjoys and appreciates graphic novels of various types. As such she has reviewed several of these books for the book bunnies blog. Today she reviews another recent graphic novel, The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell. Sprinkles was curious about the book too, and so she is taking notes while asking questions.
The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.
Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, let us start with a quick summary. What is this book about?
Marshmallow: This book is about Bernard Sandler, a seventeen-year-old boy from Yorkshire, England, who goes on a school trip to the US. Then the second world war starts and he cannot go back home. He has to find his own way through life in a new country. And he eventually joins the US army and fights in the war too.
S: That sounds like a really rough path for a young person.
M: I think so too. But he does survive and he lives a good life. And the author is his grandson who wanted to tell his story.
S: That is so neat! A lot of families have stories to tell, but not everyone ends up writing them up for others to learn about. So the book is not fiction, then?
M: No. In fact there is a long epilogue at the end of the book, which takes almost a fourth of it actually, and it gives a lot of details about Bernard’s life and his family.
S: I did see that. It looked really well documented. And in some ways it reminded me of two books you reviewed before.
M: Which ones?
S: Nothing But The Truth by Avi and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei.
M: I see how the second one is similar. That too was about real life, written by George Takei, whose childhood was during the second world war, and he went through a lot of difficult times. How do you connect this book to Avi’s?
S: That book also had a lot of documentation, no? Though of course that was fiction, and this is a real story.
M: Hmm, I see. Yes, you are right. This is not quite a typical graphic novel; first off it is true, and then it has a lot of historical documentation that connects it to history.
S: So what else would you like to tell us about the book?
M: I really liked the illustrations.
S: They are black and white, no?
M: Well, they are more or less grayscale, but you can see a lot of details, and they are almost like photos, and since it is a history being told, I think it fits really well.
S: That totally makes sense.
M: Also I’d like to say that this would be appropriate for readers of all ages.
S: Especially if someone is a history buff, no? I think a lot of people like to read and learn about the second world war. This could be really perfect for such a reader.
M: Yes, but even if you are not particularly interested in that war, this is a good book. It has a really interesting story. And there is not much that would be difficult for young bunnies, except of course it is about war, which is a terrible thing, and Bernard has to separate from his original family and his original country, so those could be too sad for really young bunnies.
S: I agree with you Marshmallow. Some young bunnies might be really sad, so for them, this might not be a good choice. But if a bunny is willing to read a book about the war, and if they are keen on graphic novels, this would be a neat book for them.
S: So did you learn some things from this book?
M: Yes. It was like looking through a window to see what life was like for a young person during the war. So I found it very interesting that way.
S: Did you know what a G.I. is?
M: I knew of the G.I. Joe action figures, but I did not know exactly what the initials meant, so I had to look it up! Wikipedia says: “G.I. are initials used to describe the soldiers of the United States Army and airmen of the United States Air Force and general items of their equipment. The term G.I. has been used as an initialism of “Government Issue”, “General Issue”, or “Ground Infantry”, but it originally referred to “galvanized iron”, as used by the logistics services of the United States Armed Forces.”
S: The evolution is interesting, isn’t it?
S: So maybe it is about time to wrap up this review. How would you rate the book overall Marshmallow?
M: I’d rate it 97%. I like how it is a real story and I like the illustrations.
S: That’s great Marshmallow. So what do you want to tell our readers then?
M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!
5 thoughts on “Marshmallow reviews The English GI by Jonathan Sandler and Brian Bicknell”
WWII was a dark period for humanity, yet, at the same time, it brought out the best in many folks. The story of how this book came about is pretty interesting in itself. Bernard Sandler wrote his memoir when he was seventy and self-published a handful of copies for his friends and family. It is a copy of this memoir which Jonathan used to write this graphic book. There is an interesting video where Jonathan talks about this.
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Wars bring nothing but misery, separation and sadness. Nobody wins.
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