The Button War

By Avi

The Button WarAnshpreet’s review
What happens? Did you find the plot interesting?
First they went to the ruins and Jurek made a contest of finding the best button when he found a button. Yes, it’s really good.

Who are the main characters?
Drugi, Jurek, Makary, Raclaw, Ulryk, Wojtex, and Patryk.

Who was your favourite character? Why?
Jurek, because he’s so focused on the contest.

Did you like the book?
I loved the book.

What was your favourite part? Why?
I like every part.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
This book is great for some of my friends because they like history.

Star rating ★★★★★

Mishri’s review
Who? As we first arrive and read the story, there are seven boys: Durgi, Jurek, Makary, Raclaw, Ulryk, Wojtex, and Patryk. Later on, around a few pages, there are Jurek’s sisters.

What? There seems to be a fight between two boys over a silly button, but then there is a war and there are bombs from Germany and Russia. That then influences the kids to make their own battle to find the finest button. But then they reach the battlefield where the actual war was.

My opinion: I think the book is very dramatic but other than that it is very nice and I would recommend it.

Star rating: Five stars.

Matthew E’s review
I would give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. This book was astonishing, mainly. I loved how witty it was e.g. when there was a proper war in the town and when the boys were having a war for the best buttons. There were times when it was a bit morbid e.g. when Jurek shot his own friend.

The main characters: Patryk, Jurek, Drugi, Makary, Raclaw, Ulryk, Wojtex, the Russians, the Germans, Patryk’s father, Patryk’s mother, the French, Cossacks, the Englishmen.

The plot: Seven boys set themselves a competition to see who could get the best buttons from the soldiers. It started off how things were planned, but when Germans raided, things began to change…Jurek started to go too far: getting buttons off dead soldiers and stealing lots of buttons. The war worsened, with soldiers and citizens getting killed. With two members of the gang dying, the button business had to stop. But it didn’t. More of the gang got shot for stealing or left the town because of the war, until there was only Patryk, Jurek, and Makary. Makary went to get a button but was shot by Jurek. Will Patryk make it out alive?

Things I like about the book: I liked how well-thought out the book was. It was really clever because that’s why I enjoyed it so much. It was also fantastic to read a different type of book for once.

Things I disliked about the book: One thing I didn’t like about the book was the chapter sizes. I thought they were too small, like chapter 71. This could be improved by republishing it but adding more chapters. Apart from that, it was a really good book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to a person over 10 years old because it was a really good book.

Unnamed reviewer’s review
Which of the characters did you find most interesting, and why?
Patryk (the main character) because he was quite brave and he cared about his friends.

Which of the characters didn’t you like, and why?
Jurek, because he is very arrogant and will do anything to win.

Did you learn anything new about the past from the book?
Not really. Only about a language called Polish.

What made the history or the time it was set in interesting to you?
Set in August 1914. It was interesting because I didn’t know how life was back then.

Would you recommend the book to other pupils?
Yes. I would recommend it to lots of other people 7+.

Lilly’s review
This book is a great book about a Polish village that was just witnessing a war. It focuses on a brave boy and his friends all fighting to get the best button. I most like Raclaw because he was part of the group but was also kind of more sensible and not just trying to show he was the bravest. The character I disliked the most was Jurek because he was mischievous and always put everyone in a dangerous position, plus striving to be the boss. It is a great way to teach people facts in a storybook so we are enjoying whilst learning. I recommend this book to the age group of 8 – 13ish.

Riley’s review
This book is really good even though it’s really sad and sometimes makes you feel really afraid. It is about a game of dares that gets out of control. It is set in Poland during the war and the main character is a boy called Patryk. He and his friends are always playing silly pranks and getting into trouble. All the friends are very different but they are friends because they like all the dares and the jokes. One of the friends can be mean and cruel at times but because they are usually having fun, no one stands up to him. When the army comes into the town the boys decide on a new game – a game of dare to steal buttons from soldier’s uniforms. The game gets really out of control and the mean friend takes it too far. Patryk has to decide whether to stand up to his friend. It is really scary in parts because it is really descriptive and there are people who the boys see dying. This might make younger children frightened. I really liked it.

Zac’s review
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read such an inspirational novel. I admire, acknowledge, and have learnt how different the effects of war had upon citizens.

My favourite characters are the boys because they are always there for each other, but they still have a healthy competitiveness between them. They like to test each other’s strengths and abilities to see if one can complete a challenge. Sometimes one of them cannot manage easily.

My least favourite characters are the boy’s parents as in my opinion, they are overprotective and do not allow him to have as much fun as he should be allowed. His parents manage to always be there to ask to where he is going, or what he is doing, when he does not want to be noticed or questioned. My favourite part of this amazing novel is when they discover the first button and protest about who should claim it. This is because it is when the boy finally realised how strong his friend was, physically and mentally.

I was interested that, in a time period of such horror, some humans did not know what was coming for them.

This was a sombre read as it is based on World War 1 which was the cause of many deaths and casualties, but this novel still brings out the light by explaining a variety of opinions on war.

Faye’s review
The Button War is a book about a group of boys who set up a dare to see who can steal the best button. However, very soon it becomes very dangerous and less of a competition.

I think that the reason that the time period was so interesting to me was because the book shows the different sides to WW1. Normally in England, we mainly focus on the Triple Entente. In this book, it shows both sides and doesn’t focus on one, because it was a neutral town in the middle.

My least favourite character would be Jurek. He seems to overpowering and bossy. As a result of him being overconfident, Jurek always assumed that he would win. He also didn’t care; even when people died, he didn’t care.

The character that I found the most interesting would be Drugi. I think that he is very supportive. From this book, I learnt about the large array of buttons and uniforms there are in WW1. In my opinion, the plot was exciting but thought-provoking because there is a lot of action in it. However, you do rethink a lot of assumptions you may have made about WW1.

The thing that stands out the most to me is how the war ruined innocent people’s lives. I would recommend this book to children aged 10 – 13 years of age.

Liliana’s review
The Button War – an historical novel set in WW1. It is about the life of a young boy called Patryk and his set of friends. One day, war strikes upon Poland. The boys set a challenge amongst themselves. But how far into chaos are they really going to go?

This book thrilled me and I couldn’t put it down. I feel that, because the author chose to write about a young boy in his own life, it makes each section seem more personal.

Though we have learnt much about people outside the war at school (such as suffragettes or munition workers), this book has taken me to another thought by talking about a small village that is in some kind of way free of the war, yet in another; trapped in it.

It definitely had me gripping the edge of my seat as I read about the boys sneaking and stealing buttons in the night.

Furthermore, this really showed the dangers of war, seeing as the seven boys have been dragged into it. For example, Raclaw’s father is a lawyer and would have had some authority in the village had it not been for the war. War is ruthless and takes no prisoners.

In summary, Patryk, Jurek, Raclaw, Wojtex, Makary, Drugi, and Ulryk could have been, in my opinion, quite desperate or even a bit silly to get so wound up and injured in the war. If it wasn’t for the author’s dramatic language, these things would have really stuck out to me. The deaths, the danger, the drama, and the pain. They make this book stand out.

Holly’s review
I found Jurek the most interesting because he did whatever he wanted and got whatever he wanted. I found that Raclaw’s father was confusing because he is welcoming to the Russians but tells the Germans to bomb them and goes behind the Russians’ backs.

I learnt how the Polish coped in the war and the extreme lengths people can be driven to, to win. I love learning about WW1 as it shows us that people didn’t know how to cope at first, as it hadn’t happened before. And what they found saved, or destroyed, their lives.

The plot, which was amazing, had lots of twists and turns in. One moment you’re scared, the next, holding your breath. I have never read anything like it; it shone new light for me on thievery in WW1.

I would recommend it to 10+ as it is quite gruesome and the language is sometimes hard to understand.

Ella’s review
The Button War is a book based on WW2 where six friends take on a challenge to collect the best buttons. It starts as a dare then gets more serious with each button “found”. Half of the group get killed in their attempts to get the buttons, leaving three contestants left.

Patryck was my favourite character as he didn’t win for himself. He knew that if Jurek won, it wouldn’t end well so he started playing Jurek’s way. Not in a rough manner but in a way that would beat him.

The character I dislike was Jurek; he was cruel, greedy, and disrespectful. I hope that, after he was left in the village all alone, he has learnt his lesson.

I learnt that sometimes people you trust the most are the people who end up turning their backs on you.

The story was set in a small village in Poland.

I would recommend this book to ages 10 – 13 and I hope that people enjoy the book as much as me.

Ben’s review
The Button War by Avi is a really emotional book with a lot of death and did teach me a lot of history of WW1 (World War One). I really liked the book and did enjoy a lot but the end left me speechless and made me wonder did he find what he needed?

The book is set in a Polish village in Poland (I give it extra points because I’m Polish like my dad but not my mum, she is Latvian). My personal favourite character is Jurek because he is a dare-devil so he makes a dare for all his 3 of his other friends and himself. He makes a dare of who can find the best button and this is called the button game. Two countries Russia and Germany fight over Poland. Russia has taken over a small land of Poland for God knows but Germany is ruined by Hitler and he is in charge of Germany and he wants to take over the world but Russia won’t let that happen…

The button war game has just started, Jurek being the braindead and no-fear boy, he decides to steal buttons from the Russian, German, and French but Patryk, the boy who the book is based around, wonders if this “button game” is even a game. The Nazis bomb the school with a plane and Patryk gets the echoes of the plane in his head…

I would rate this 4 and a half out of 5 stars and would recommend this for 11 – 17 ages.

Willow’s review
The plot:
A boy called Patryk found a button in the forest but another boy called Jurek found a button on a Russian uniform and cut it off after their school was bombed in the village. The boys have a competition of who has the best military button but they get stuck in a war.

The characters:
I found Patryk an interesting character as he loved to collect buttons and I also liked how he responded to everything that happened in the book. I didn’t like Jurek as he was always saying, “I’m king, so I need to know”. He was also very devious.

Did you learn anything new about the past?
I learned that not many people knew about aeroplanes and that the Germans invaded the Russians.

What made the history of the time it was set in interesting to you?
I found the time was really interesting as it was set in WW1 and since I read this book I want to find out more.

Was the plot exciting, thought-provoking, serious, light-hearted?
The plot was exciting and thought-provoking, as people died and people left their home town.

What stands out most? What stands out for me is how fascinated Patryk is by all the buttons.

Would you recommend it? I would definitely recommend this book to other pupils as it is a very interesting book.

Ethan’s review
The plot:
The story is about 7 children who make up a challenge to find the best button. The story takes place in a village in the middle of a war between the Germans and the Russians.

The characters:
My favourite character is Patryk because he is kind and tries to help others; for example, when Rachau got shot Patryk got him back on his feet and carried him home. I didn’t like Jurek because he was selfish and only cared about buttons.

Did you learn anything new about the past?
I didn’t realise that children and adults can die in the war – I only thought it was soldiers.

What made the history of the time it was set in interesting to you?
The time it was set in was exciting and gripping because I didn’t know much about World War 1 until I read this book.

Was the plot exciting, thought-provoking, serious, light-hearted?
The plot was very heart-breaking because 2 of Patryk’s friends died; one was beaten to death and another was shot.

What stands out most?
The thing that stands out the most for me is the moral of the story. The moral is don’t be scared to speak out or stand up for your friends.

Would you recommend it?
I would recommend this book to my friend because he loves exciting and thrilling books.

Mati’s review
The plot:
The book was about a Polish village and mostly 7 boys. They were doing a button contest and they started stealing military buttons and the Germans were bombing the village.

The characters:
I found Patryk the most interesting because he is a sort of character like me and he wanted good for his friends. I didn’t like Jurek because he shot one of his friends.

Did you learn anything new about the past?
That Russia owned a bit of Poland and Germany did too.

What made the history of the time it was set in interesting to you?
I found it interesting because I didn’t know much about history but I learned more when I read this book.

Was the plot exciting, thought-provoking, serious, light-hearted?
It’s exciting but a bit sad too.

What stands out most?
How the book was created and by that I mean that the way you (the author) made it interesting not boring as I thought it would be.

Would you recommend it?
Yes, I would.

[Unnamed reviewer]
The plot:
Patryk has never left his village. One day he sees an airplane, he tells his friend, but they find themselves in a world war while finding the best button.

The characters:
I liked Patryk because he is adventurous and he likes exploring. I didn’t like Jurek because he thinks he’s “the king” and he’s a bit full of himself.

Did you learn anything new about the past?
That you could die from a burn.

What made the history of the time it was set in interesting to you?
I really like the World Wars so as soon as it was mentioned it was set in World War 1 I really wanted to read it.

Was the plot exciting, thought-provoking, serious, light-hearted? 

It was exciting, serious, and sad.

What stands out most?
The setting and the time. I thought it was a really good book.

Would you recommend it?
Yes, definitely. It was SO good.

Haydn's review
12-year-old Patryk lives in a small Polish town in 914. He hangs with his group of friends which includes Jurek. One day in August, Patryk finds a button which makes Jurek very angry. Jurek is poor, he calls himself 'King of the Forest' and anything in the forest is his. This starts the Button War. Whoever gets the best button of a Russian Soldier, will be king of the forest. Then war comes to his town and the game goes from stealing buttons off the washing line of Russian soldiers to taking them from dead soldiers' bodies. Jurek really wants to be the King of the Forest and will do anything to get the best button even if that might be dangerous for his friends.

The description of war is dreadful with lots of detail about the boys coming across some Russian soldiers after they had been attacked by Germans. Also the bombing of a school house and his friend being caught in the fire is equally shocking. The reading is uncomfortable and shocking at times, but that makes it real. I feel that this book also shows peer pressure well with Jurek and his wish to be king all the time and he will do just about anything for it. 

The book represents the war that invades their small village with the horror and devastation it leaves behind. The author doesn't hold back on the destruction and what war can do to a small village and country. I couldn't put the book down even with the disturbing and disgusting parts.

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