History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. -Winston Churchill

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dear Friends...

Trevor: I'm sure most of you are probably wondering why we asked you to come back on Wednesday. Well, we need to tell you something.

Marin: To start, thank you so much for all of your support and all the things you've done for us, you wonderful readers. We had so much fun sharing our adventures with you as we traveled through history. Mainly American history, but some world history as well. We enjoyed the comments, the interaction and the fun we had with you!

Trevor: But we've come to the end of the American history course. Yes, we do know a lot about world history as well, but I have been doing some scheduling-

Marin: A LOT of scheduling. I have to sit around and wait for him to finish it up, which is very boring.

Trevor: Ahem.

Marin: Sorry.

Trevor: What I'm trying to say is that Marin and I have decided it's time to step away from the blog and focus on our own personal lives. This blog has taken up a lot of our time, and though we enjoy it, it's hard to run it regularly and do the things in our lives that we do- half the time when you see these posts we're not even here, we're off adventuring in some foreign land trying to stay out of trouble!

Marin: This was a very hard decision for us to make, as we do love to share our stories with you. But now that Trevor wants to get married to Ilene-

Trevor: Don't listen to her! We're not even engaged yet!

Marin: Well, they're close to getting engaged. I saw the ring-

Trevor: Okay, enough, Marin! back to the subject. Like I was saying before Marin interrupted, yes, our personal lives are beginning to take up more time and it's hard for us to do this blog. We will leave it active and we might do posts once in a while, but there will not be any set  schedule anymore.

Marin: But we're talking about writing a book!

Trevor: You mean I'm talking about writing a book. Yes. This is being discussed. We haven't decided yet. It would take a lot of work, because I don't enjoy writing very much. Also, I'd need a lot of editing help, but we do have a friend of ours who is willing to help us write it. I'm not much of a writer and neither is Marin, but a close friend of ours, Emily McConnell (she used to call herself Calamity Rene on the internet) told us that whenever we wanted to write our story down she'd be willing to help. So we might take her up on that. *HINT HINT, Emily, we're going to be begging you to write it soon!* She's got her own projects at the moment and I haven't written down my fist draft of the story yet to give her, so that may be a long time from now.

Marin: Trevor is the king of procrastination. He doesn't like writing at all.

Trevor: It's hard to believe this blog has been going for a whole year. We've really enjoyed our time with you and experimenting with the wonderful world of blogging. If we do decide to collaborate with Emily and write a book, we'll let you know.

Marin: For now, thank you for your support and God Bless! We hope you enjoyed this blog! Feel free to reread anything on here!

Trevor: Take care and may God bless your walk with Him. Enjoy your summer as well, it's coming up fast!

Together: bye!

-Trevor Trekker and Marin Maklakov

Monday, April 27, 2015

Winds of Change: Part Three

Previously on Winds of Change:
"Marin, whatever happens, it's God's will," I tell her. "We can't change what God has set in stone. You and I have both learned that from our travels. When it is someone's time, it's someone's time. You need to be brave for me, okay?"
Marin slightly nodded. "I love you, táta."
My heart wrenched. I knew what that meant.
I nodded to Dominik. "Take care of her." I then looked over at Ilene, that helpless feeling coming over me again. She searched my eyes, trying to understand. She couldn't understand. She couldn't understand how long I'd wanted to talk to her. How even now I wanted to hear her voice. "Watch over them both, Dominik," I found myself saying, then turned towards Mykola. "Let's go."

I couldn't believe how calm I was. Mykola and I hiked over the hill and towards an even more secluded spot, far away into the forest. Neither one of us spoke. I couldn't speak. All I could think about was Marin's reaction. What she'd called me. She'd called me Papa in Czech. Me. Trevor Trekker. She'd called me her Papa. It was almost enough to make me forget about my present situation.
"This will do," Mykola announced, whipping out his gun.
Almost. Not quite, though.
Mykola turned to me, his blue eyes cold. He wasn't smiling. All of his sarcastic, cruel taunting had been replaced by a coldness that I couldn't explain.
I stood where I was in silence. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do, really. I looked at the sky and figured it was about three in the afternoon.
"I don't know what to say to you, Trevor."
I glanced at Mykola. "I don't either, Mykola."
"You were the first friend I had in a very long time." His tone was flat. He almost looked panicked, but I couldn't tell. "But you betrayed me. You ruined my life. And you refused to help me."
I sighed. "I think I've stated where I am on this matter."
"Can't you see what I've been through!" Mykola demanded, his blue eyes flashing. "Don't you know the pain you've caused me? Or are you too selfish to know what you've done to me? You've ruined my life!"
"I wanted to help you, Mykola. But there's nothing more I can say on this. I tried. I really tried."
He shook his head. "You didn't try hard enough."
"I did my best. There was nothing I could do."
He snapped his head up and looked me in the eye. "You do realize I'm going to kill you?"
Something was off about him. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. He wasn't acting right. I wasn't sure what his problem was. What on earth, Trevor! He's about to kill you and all you can think about it how strange he's acting. Well duh, if he was going to kill me of course he was acting strange.
But that wasn't it. There was something else...
"Why aren't you begging for your life? Why aren't you begging me not to kill you? I am going to kill you, Trevor. I'm going to end this problem once and for all. I'm going to take from you what you've refused to give to me- my life back."
I frowned. "If you're going to kill me, Mykola, there's nothing I can say to stop you."
"But you always whine!" he exploded. "You always try to slither your way out of something. Say something!"
"Mykola, if it's my time to die, than I accept it." A small light of understanding was beginning to dawn in my mind. I began to put the pieces together. "I believe in God, Mykola. I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe he has a set timeline for everyone. If I die I'm going to spend the rest of eternity with him." I gazed into his eyes. I didn't speak for a minute. Then, before I even realized what I was saying, the words were out of my mouth. "I forgive you, Mykola."
He stared at me. His own eyes begin to well up with tears. He brushed them away. "No!" he shouted. "No, no, no! You can't forgive me! I can't stand you! I should forgive you before you forgive me! You're the one who's done this to me- augh!"
Without warning Mykola threw the gun down onto the ground and sunk to his knees. I stepped back, alarmed, as he began to sob. "You can't forgive me. I don't forgive you. What's wrong with you? Why do I feel this way? I wanted to kill you, but I can't. I can't do it. My life is ruined. I have nothing left."
I wasn't sure what to do. I realized Mykola had reached the point of brokenness. He was at a point in life where there was nothing left for him. He had lost his family. For years he'd run on revenge, but now he couldn't even do that. He was empty.
I found myself coming forward and sitting down next to him. I put my hand on his shoulder as he sobbed. I had never in my life seen him cry, not even when his family died. "Mykola," I said gently, "Jesus loves you."
"He can't love me. I was going to kill you. I'm no better than the man who blew up the apartments in Moscow."
"But Mykola, Jesus loves you anyways. He loves you so much. He forgives you of everything you've done."
I could only see his blond hair. He had his face near the ground. He shook his head violently. "No, no."
What should I say? What should I do? I didn't know what I should tell him. I hesitated, then pressed on. "Mykola, if you could only see how much God loves you, and how much he wants you to come to Him. He wants you, Mykola. He wants you to come to him so he can fix your brokenness-"
The next instant I was on the ground and Mykola had his hands around my throat. I gulped as I looked into his eyes, the previous sadness and fear gone. In it's place was sheer rage.
"You stupid liar," he hissed. "You horrid Scotsman. You tried to use kindness to stop me!"
"Uhhh..." I managed.
"You are the reason I've lived my life alone these years. You are the reason my family didn't survive. And I will make you pay!"
He squeezed as hard as he could. I choked, clawed, and tried to get him off of me, but my world was spinning. I was falling, I was disappearing, everything was getting black...


I sat on the stretcher, holding a cloth to my neck as I coughed again. Marin sat next to me, while Dominik and Ilene sat in chairs across from us. Standing next to me was Past Trevor, a grin the size of a banana.
"He was so out of it," Trevor was telling the others, "and I appeared like wham! And saw Mykola choking him, so I hit him on the head like bang! And knocked him out. He didn't see what was coming. I saved myself from certain death, I did. Oui! What an adventure!" Exhausted from his monologue, Past Trevor flopped onto a stretcher. "I'm tired." He got back up and started to head out the tent door. "I'll be back."
"I thought you said you were tired!" I called after him.
"I am. So I'm going to go eat dinner."
Past Trevor disappeared out the tent flap.
Dominik snorted. "I can see why Mykola couldn't stand you."
I gave him a sideways glance. "I don't want to talk about that, Dominik."
We were in the makeshift hospital that the British and French soldiers had assigned to them. Mykola had been taken off to a guard post used to keep runaway soldiers under lock and key. He had been unconscious when they'd taken him, but I was pretty sure he would be swearing when he woke up.
Past Trevor had done exactly what he'd proclaimed he'd done. He'd been returning from the mission I sent him on to get 4T from Mykola back when Mykola went to steal it from Audrey. How he came to show up exactly when I needed him, I don't know. But now that he'd done everything I did recall doing something like that. I still didn't know the answer. Getting the past and the present together can be very confusing.
"What now, Trevor?" Dominik asked.
"Huh?" I looked up at him, still massaging my neck. It was pretty bruised.
"Mykola's in jail. We're here. We don't need to hide from him anymore. What are we to do next?"
I glanced over at Ilene, who still had not said a word since I'd arrived back ten minutes ago. She had remained silent when Marin and leapt into my arms, crying. Though I wished she'd say something. I was dying to know what Mykola told her about me- good or bad.
"Well, first things first, we need to get Ilene to her own time period," I mumbled.
Ilene eyed me, her green eyes locking with mine. "You're going to take me back to my era?" she asked, her beautiful British accent ringing like church bells.
I was speechless.
"Don't you want to go to your time period?" Marin asked.
A small, coy smile crossed Ilene's face. "I haven't even gotten to know the man who's rescued me yet." She glanced once more at me. "You gave yourself up for me and I don't know a thing about you."
"Wh- why would you want to- to talk to me?" I managed.
"Because you're a time traveler." A mischievous grin began to grow on her face. "And I hear you know quite a bit more about me than I do about you."
Marin began to laugh. I chuckled nervously and wiped my brow. Dominik snickered.
"Uhhh... that is somewhat true..."
 Marin put her arm around mine and hugged it tightly. "Ilene, I would like you to meet Mr. Trevor Trekker," she said, looking up into my eyes with adoration. "He is the most wonderful Dad I've ever had. And I never want to leave him. Ever."
She'd said it. She'd said it right then, the words I'd wondered and hoped to hear but never dreamed I would. She didn't want to leave. Marin still wanted to be my little girl. I wasn't sure how Dominik felt about that, but for now I was happy to know she did care about me. I did my best to keep the tears away, but they began to fall anyways. "Darn allergies," I grumbled.
Marin giggled. "Also, he has a crush on you."
Ilene met my gaze and smiled again. "Really?"
I shrugged helplessly, Dominik sneering at my sheepishness. "Where to begin?"
"How about the beginning?" Ilene suggested. "Like how you come to know about me but I never saw you before."
In that room during the first World War I began to tell my story to the woman I'd loved from afar for more than five years. In that same tent, I sat with my precious adopted daughter and a man who I hoped would become a brother to me.
We had gone through a lot together. Ilene had gone through a lot, even if she didn't know how she was connected. But now we were together. The three most important people in my life.
Perhaps someday Mykola could join our group as well. At least now we didn't have to worry about him.
Yes, life looked like it was about to settle down again. And, it looked like it was about to get a lot more interesting.
After all, I'm a time traveler. And a time traveler always has a lot more adventure on his hands than he should!
The End


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Winds of Change: Part Two

Previously on Trevor Trekker's Tales: Winds of Change:
Without warning, Marin came running up the hill, panting and yelling. "Trevor! Dominik!"
We leapt to our feet, our previous somewhat friendly demeanor gone. "What is it?" Dominik demanded.
"It's Mykola!" Marin screeched. "It's Mykola, and he's kidnapped the lady, Trevor!"
"What lady?" My throat constricted and I tried to steady myself. Dear God, no.
"It's Ilene!"

No. The lady. Ilene. No! He  couldn't- he wouldn't- he did!
I was up on my feet and running as fast as I could, following Marin back to the camp. I could see him already, the young English lady right next to him as he chatted easily with a nurse. He pretended like nothing was wrong, but I could see, hidden in his right hand, was the gun. Ilene looked terrified, her green eyes looking right and left. Poor woman, she didn't know what this was about!
I skidded to a stop a good ten feet away. Mykola glanced my direction and smirked, but continued to wrap up his conversation.
"No, no, I do believe it would be best if we found somewhere else to stay," he was saying. "Thank you for your offer, though. I believe we'll be heading out of here and back to England, where it's safe." He turned towards me. "Ah, Trevor, there you are! I was wondering where you were."
He said it so easily, like he hadn't done a thing wrong. Ilene hadn't moved. He must have shown her what a gun could do and threatened to use it on her. Now her eyes met mine.
I felt weak in the knees. For the first time ever, Ilene saw me. She was looking straight at me, her eyes meeting mine. But this wasn't how I wanted to meet her!
"Mykola," I seethed. "Let. Her. Go."
Mykola shrugged, sticking the gun in his pocket and putting both hands out. "I'm not doing anything. How can I let her go?" That wry grin started tugging at the corners of his mouth again. "But I'm interested in talking to you." He motioned to where Marin and Dominik stood. "And them, if we could find somewhere a bit more... shall we say, private? There are a lot of ears around here."
He put his hand in his pocket once more to prove he would use his gun if he had to. Ilene shuddered, glancing over at him but remaining remarkably calm. She didn't move a muscle. What a lady, I thought. She's been thrown into the future and is seeing things she never would have dreamed existed and is a captive to a crazy Ukrainian who wants to kill someone. She acted like this was normal. I have to marry her.
One step at a time. First I had to save her.
"There's a treed area past that knoll," I said, jerking my thumb back as I stared Mykola down. "We can go there."
"Excellent choice," Mykola agreed. His cold eyes locked gazes with me. "I couldn't think of a more perfect place for a service."
I sucked in a deep breath and did my best to calm myself. This wasn't going to end well if I lost my temper.

Once we were well hidden and out of sight and hearing range from the camp, Mykola shoved Ilene in my direction and pulled out the gun fully. I caught her before she fell, stumbling back in embarrassment and looking the other way. Marin, seeing the situation, leapt forward and helped Ilene come stand next to her.
"It's okay," she said gently. "We'll do our best to help you."
Ilene nodded, still silent.
"Now, Trevor," Mykola spat my name out, "you and I have some unsettled business."
"I'm aware of that," I replied. "And it doesn't involve any of them."
"Well, I'd like to pick a bone with Dominik," he glared at the young Russian, "but I can do that after I've dealt with you. I'm not interested in hurting the child or the woman. That's beneath me. But I have no qualms settling scores with you. Shall we walk?"
Before I could even open my mouth, Marin jumped forward. "No!" she shouted. "No, you cannot hurt him. I won't let you! If you're going to hurt Trevor, then you're going to have to hurt me, too."
"Marin!" I gasped. I whirled to Mykola. "Pay no attention to her, she's having a momentary lapse of sensibility."
"I am not!" She was now fully next to me, tears streaming down her eyes. She wiped them away angrily. "You think you can push everyone around, get revenge because you feel you were wronged. Trevor didn't wrong you, not on purpose! He wanted to help you, he tried to help you. Can't you see that? Or are you too cold and cruel to let any kindness penetrate that shell of yours?"
I put my arms around Marin and pulled her back and away from Mykola. "That's enough, Marin!" I reprimanded her.
Mykola cocked his head a little, somewhat amused. "You will defend him with everything you have," he said, chuckling, "even though he never tried to help you find your parents? He never once offered to go back and locate them, save you and them from the Nazi onslaught? Trevor stole your from your own time period, child, then wanted to keep you as his own little girl. He changed your name. He didn't try to locate your family. He didn't try to save them. And he could have. That doesn't bother you?"
I felt like someone had punched me in the chest. The memories, the thoughts of our first meeting. I had been selfish. I hadn't tried hard to find her family. I had nearly gotten us both killed. Marin had to pull me out of a situation more than once in Czechoslovakia. He was right.
But Marin, she shook her head. "Trevor did what he could," she said in a near whisper. "He looked. He tried. I know he did. And no matter what he did, I know he would not find them." She looked up at me, her blue eyes shining with tears. "Trevor, I knew they were dead from the very beginning. Perhaps not my father, but my mother is. I saw them shoot her. I saw her die. My father may still be alive, but he abandoned me. He never cared that much for me, anyways. I was a girl. That's why you couldn't find her when you looked for her. I liked to pretend that nothing happened, that perhaps she didn't die. But she did. I know. And Trevor, that's not your fault. You couldn't have saved her. And of course you didn't know about Dominik- I didn't know about Dominik!"
"Marin, Marin, calm down," I said, bending down to try and stop her monologue. Marin never talked this much.
Without warning she threw her arms around my neck and sobbed in my shirt. "Oh, Trevor," she cried.
"Marin, Marin! It's alright, it's okay." I tried to soothe her. "What's gotten into you?"
"Trevor, I don't want to lose you. Please, don't leave me. I need you. I need you to be there for me."
Now I wanted to cry. I hugged her tightly and patted the back of her head. "Marin, Marin, it's alright. You wonderful, spunky little girl, it's okay. It's okay."
There was a loud sigh behind us. "I don't have all day, Trevor." A gun clicked. "Now let's go."
"Please, don't," Marin begged.
I looked up helplessly at Dominik and Ilene. Dominik stepped forward and gently pulled Marin away from me.
"Marin, whatever happens, it's God's will," I tell her. "We can't change what God has set in stone. You and I have both learned that from our travels. When it is someone's time, it's someone's time. You need to be brave for me, okay?"
Marin slightly nodded. "I love you, táta."
My heart wrenched. I knew what that meant.
I nodded to Dominik. "Take care of her." I then looked over at Ilene, that helpless feeling coming over me again. She searched my eyes, trying to understand. She couldn't understand. She couldn't understand how long I'd wanted to talk to her. How even now I wanted to hear her voice. "Watch over them both, Dominik," I found myself saying, then turned towards Mykola. "Let's go."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Winds of Change

It was easy to see that Dominik was uneasy.
I wasn't sure how to calm him down. He knew what time period we were in. He knew what was going on with his people no the Eastern front. He wanted a part of it.
Marin was busy tending to French, Canadian and British soldiers. One young man, Arthur, she had been paying special attention to, helping him with a nasty shell wound to his leg. I watched how she carefully sponged the wound, wrapped it up and talked so sweetly to the soldier. He seemed rather touched as well.
"I think my sister has found her calling."
I jumped, a bit startled, and glanced over at Dominik. He had his arms crossed and was chewing his lower lip thoughtfully.
"I think you're right," I agreed. "I'm surprised. I never thought of Marin being a nurse. She gets so fearful. It's amazing how well she keeps herself together while taking care of wounds."
Now Marin and Arthur were laughing. She'd finished helping him and was sitting down, listening to the young blond Brit spin a wild tale.
"I sure hope she hasn't decided she likes him," I muttered.
"She's twelve, Mr. Trekker. I doubt that's the case. She's very easily enthralled with tales. Most Czechs and Russians are."
I eyed the young Russian. "Dominik, I think it's time we take care of the matter of who is going to raise Marin. I think we've both been contemplating it long enough. It's time we discuss it."
Dominik nodded. "My thoughts exactly. Why don't we go somewhere private? There's enough women nurses here that I'm sure Marin will be alright."
I waved to Marin to get her attention, then motioned that Dominik and I were leaving. She nodded, having moved on to someone else to help a nurse bandage a head wound.
My heart slowed and felt heavy as a rock. This was the conversation I'd been dreading for some time. But I knew it was necessary. Dear God, whatever we  decide, let it be the best for Marin.
It was hard for me to pray that, when I knew what I wanted more than anything. I wanted Marin to stay with me as my own daughter. I wanted to raise her and watch her grow up and fuss over her when she fell in love with some lucky guy and married him. But I also wanted what was best for her, and as of late, my lifestyle hadn't exactly been child-friendly.
Let us make the right decision. Help me to do what is right, God. Amen.

"I think I should make it clear that I'm not to thrilled with leaving my sister with you," Dominik began.
We were seated on a grassy hill, overlooking the bay as we watched the American ships come in. The first American troops to enter the war had arrived.
"I thought that might be the case." I nodded.
"Your life has been chaotic and all over the place. Even before Mykola tried to kill you, I was watching and following you everywhere. You two seemed to be in danger wherever you went."
"Well, we had to give the blog readers a story, so we spiced things up a bit."
Dominik stared at me. "What?"
I waved it off. "Never mind. Long story."
"My point is, Mr. Trekker-"
"Trevor," I interrupted. "You can call me Trevor, Dominik."
He somewhat relaxed and smiled a bit. "My point is, Trevor, that I don't want to see my sister getting hurt. Or worse." He sighed and scratched his head. "But my life isn't the best, either. I know that Kursk in 1943 is not an ideal place for my little sister to live. So many peopled died on the Eastern front- women, children and men. I don't want her to live there, either. But I want to go back and help my regiment push the Nazis out of our territory, which I can't do if Marin's along."
"Uhm, about your regiment, Dominik," I began uneasily, "I need to talk to you about Communism and some things you should probably know are going to happen."
His look hardened. "You're a Westerner. Of course you don't like Communism."
"That's not all, Dominik. I'm worried that after the war you'll be shipped off to a Gulag."
"What? I'm a loyal solder! Why would I be put in a Gulag?"
"Because Stalin put most of the soldiers who marched onto Berlin into the Gulag. He was afraid they'd been too Westernized. If I'm correct, Dominik, you're going to be one of the people who makes it to Berlin." I looked away. "I checked your file in the future. You survive Kursk and go onto the Berlin march. But Dominik, you disappear after that. No one knows what happened to you. I think you were sent to the Gulag."
Dominik stared at me for a good long while. "This isn't to get me to leave Marin with you, is it?" he growled.
"No, no!" I waved my hands. "I'm telling you this so you know. I understand you feel the need to fight for your country, but you need to realize that your Communists are going to be the death of you. Understand? Even now, while the Russians march onto Galicia for their last offensive-- which by the way is going to end in a total disaster-- the Bolsheviks have begun their bloody war against the Tsar. They killed hundreds of people, Dominik. People who didn't want any part of the Red army or the White army. They just wanted to stop fighting. Is that right?"
Dominik crossed his arms and looked away. I hoped I was getting the point across to him, but I couldn't tell.
"Trevor, I fight for my country. Not for Communism. I never was much of a Communist, anyway. But I want to finish the battle and push the Nazis out of my homeland. Isn't that what you would do?"
"Actually, I probably would have been thrown into prison by now for getting distracted and freaking out."
Dominik grinned a bit, then began to laugh. "I could see you deserting and running the other way, screaming with that hilarious Scottish accent of yours."
I joined in his laughter. "Oh, so that's what you think of my accent? I could say the same for your Russian one!"
Without warning, Marin came running up the hill, panting and yelling. "Trevor! Dominik!"
We leapt to our feet, our previous somewhat friendly demeanor gone. "What is it?" Dominik demanded.
"It's Mykola!" Marin screeched. "It's Mykola, and he's kidnapped the lady, Trevor!"
"What lady?" My throat constricted and I tried to steady myself. Dear God, no
"It's Ilene!"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Battled Reads: Books on World War One

Ready for some more books? Hopefully you finished last month's books, because you'll have your hands full with these new additions!

Rilla of Ingleside
L.M. Montgomery

From the Anne of Green Gables series

Anne's children were almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one could resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can't think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever.

What we like about this book: It’s from the Anne of Green Gables series, it’s about another rambunctious girl and it covers World War One history. What’s not to like?

Audience: girls

Age range: eleven and up

The Night Flyers

Elizabeth McDavid Jones

In 1918, caring for her family's homing pigeons while her father is away fighting in World War I, twelve-year-old Pam comes to suspect that a mysterious stranger in her small North Carolina town is a German spy.

What we like about this book: Pam is doing her best to be responsible and works hard to care for her father's pigeons. The story’s setting is masterfully done, and Pam’s suspiciousness about the German spy makes it into a good story. It’s very suspenseful and a great read!

Audience: girls

Age range: nine to fourteen

The War Horse

Michael Morpurgo

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

What we like about this book: if you enjoyed the War Horse movie, you’re going to love the book so much more! Honestly, Marin and I both agree the book is better than the movie. The characters are far more alive in the book and Joey’s perspective on everything is hard to beat. This is a wonderful but very sobering book, one we recommend that everyone reads at some point in their life.

Audience: Boys and girls

Age Range: 12 and up

Cautions: The war is described in detail, and though it’s from the eyes of a horse, it is a very sobering and frightening picture. Kids who are easily frightened by such things shouldn’t read this book. It’s very descriptive in some areas.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In the Muddy Trenches: World War One

Trevor's Journal, July 3rd, 1917.

I get the feeling we don't have much time here. I know Mykola is onto us. I just don't know what his next move is.
We're in France right now, watching as the first American troops to join the efforts of the Great War land. A lot of the Frenchmen are cheering, glad to have them here. France is looking pretty awful right now. There are trenches, bombed buildings, craters in the streets and fields, dead horses... it's not a pretty sight. But I think in the midst of so many others, Mykola has more trouble finding us.
Currently, Dominik and Marin are helping at a hospital for wounded soldiers, just like when we went to visit George Washington's camp. I think Marin has found her calling. She's usually so listless whenever we go anywhere, nervous and unsure of herself and of her safety. Now, she's got all these men to help take care of, and she's determined to do her part. I'm amazed she can handle seeing such destruction. I guess I know what she'll probably be when she grows up!
Dominik is somewhat annoyed with me. As soon as he figured out we were in the time period of the Great War, he demanded we go to the Eastern Front so he could join his fellow Russians in the last offensive against the Germans in Galicia. Uhhh, not a good idea. Those guys are getting slaughtered over there, the offensive was a huge failure and hundreds and hundreds of men died. It could even be totaled in the thousands, no one really knows. Dominik insisted he wanted to fight anyways, he explained that was the battle that started the spirit of the Revolution among his people. I need to remember to have a talk with Dominik later and show him what happens in his country after the Communists take over. He's still got his Red pride because he fought in World War Two. I don't think he realizes he would probably have been sent to the Gullag if he'd survived the war. Poor guy.
It's sad to see such a beautiful country in so much peril. I've seen France before this war. It was beautiful, the countryside was beautiful, everything was so pretty. You can hear a regular booming sound on the horizon. The battles are not that very far off.
World War One (or, as to these people and all the way up to World War Two call it, "The Great War") was a war that took several years in the making. Actually, to be specific, it took from 1871 to 1914 to begin. Tensions were on the rise between France and Germany, after a war between them called the Franco-Prussian War. France had to sign a treaty they did NOT like, which entailed things like giving up parts of France to Germany and letting the then King Wilhelm 1 of Prussia be crowned Kaiser of a unified German state- in France's own Hall of Mirrors in Versailles palace. Needless to say, the French were not happy about that.
The day that really got World War One under way  was the day that the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian named Gavrilo Princip, a man who was part of a secret society called Black Hand, whose purpose was to break up parts of Austria-Hungary Southern Slav providence and join them with Yugoslavia. (present day Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo.)
It started an upheaval all right- it started a war. The emperor of Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph, declared war on Serbia for the killing. Eager to get in on the action and because they had a treaty with Serbia, Russia announces full mobilization of their army to defend Serbia. Germany, also eager to gain new territory, declared war on Russia. While they were at it, they declared war on France, then on Belgium and did a quick invasion so they could get into France quicker. As a result, England, angered that the Germans invaded Belgium, declared war on Germany. Right after that, Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia. Guess how fast this all took place?
Nine days. In nine days, a good chunk of Europe had declared war on each other. Everyone was chomping at the bit to get into the fight. America didn't join the efforts until 1917, after a telegram from the German Reich's Foreign Secretary was discovered by the British and contained promises to Mexico that if they joined the war, they could have parts of America to themselves. Yeah, America wasn't going to stand for that, so they joined the Great War.
That's where we are today. We're watching the troops land from their American ships. I feel sorry for these guys. They have no idea what kind of war they're going to be facing. One of the most brutal wars in history. These guys are going to spend months in muddy, wet trenches. They're going to be exposed to horrible diseases, which many of them will die from. Both sides of this war are facing horrible conditions and wounds. It's sad. It's very sad to see people killing other people over these things.
I should go now. Marin and Dominik could probably use some help. On a good note, I'm glad to know that this war will end in a year, on November 11th, 1918. War is so horrible. Even when it's fought for the right reasons-- like World War Two, to stop the Nazi onslaught-- it's still horrible.
I hope that in the future, we don't have to face something like this again.
Gotta go. Something's got everyone stirred up near the medical tents. Better go find out what's going on and make sure Marin isn't in the middle of some disaster.

Today in History: I couldn't find anything in history for today in 1917, so I jumped a year and went to 1918. Today on April first, the British, Australian and Canadians troops had successfully executed a counter attack and had taken back some territory the Germans had occupied. The area was called Moreuil Wood, and this battle was one of many that began the successful advancement of the allied troops.

Little Known Fact: Since Marin teased you all with that painting of Joey, the War Horse, which all of you horse lovers know about, did you know that the painting of Joey wasn't actually created until production of the movie began a couple years ago? Everyone thought the painting was real because the author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo, begins his book describing a small dusty painting in a real place, the Iddesleigh town hall in Devon, England. Visitors to England who had read the book were convinced it was real, so they'd go to Iddesleigh asking to see the painting of Joey done by Captain Nichols. The film artist who did the sketches of Joey that appeared in the film, Alexandra Bannister, was asked by Michael to do a painting of Joey like he'd described to satisfy tourists and help sooth the locals of Iddesleigh who were getting very agitated that everyone kept asking to see the painting of Joey. So now you know that Joey the War Horse never actually existed, but we sure got a good story from the author, didn't we?

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Month Ahead

Exciting month! I know I had quite the adventure. I hope dear William takes care and gets better. Maybe someday I'll go back and see if I can find him. I'm sure Trevor would take me.
But we need to escape Mykola. He's on our tail, and he's got something planned.
So Trevor decided we're going to...

APRIL 2015

What to expect
The Great War: World War One
An introduction of WWI, some historical facts, today in history and a little known fact.
Battled Reads: Books on World War One
We'll give you three books/series about World War One for you to read that we think you'll enjoy.
Story Post
Trevor, Dominik and I flee to The Great War to escape Mykola.
Story Post 2
Trevor, Dominik and I flee to The Great War to escape Mykola.

Story Post 3
Trevor, Dominik and I flee to The Great War to escape Mykola.

Anyone know who this horse is? I'm sure you horse fans do...