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War and Hope – Fantasy and Reality

Young girl reading by a window
Clara Taggart MacChesney, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Young girl reading by a window

War and Hope – Fantasy and Reality
by Calliope, age 11

CM: My name is Calliope. I’m 11 and I live in Wichita Kansas. I just read a book called Echoes from the Square by an author named Elizabeth Wellburn.

AUNT KATH: In this book set in a terrible war time where a boy had to go out every day just to get water so his family could survive, hope is an important theme. There had been a terrible bombing and 23 people had died and many beautiful buildings and neighborhoods. The cellist was so sad he wanted to do something beautiful, so he went into the town square for 23 days and played a beautiful piece of music in honor of the dead.

AUNT KATH: You probably haven’t read a book like this have you?

CM: No, we don’t really read books like this.

AUNT KATH: The book is about hope and about war, too. What do you think it would be like to live in a country where every day you got up and there was war?

CM: It would be hard especially since when the bombs hit, during World War II, they went to the train tracks and took cover and you’d have to do that all the time. You’d have to run to the train tracks and then go down and take cover. Every time bombs hit, you’d have to do that.

AUNT KATH: And wouldn’t that be very frightening, wouldn’t it?

CM: Very. Like your closest friends could lose their lives.

AUNT KATH: It would have to be frightening not to know when that might happen. But, life would have to go on, wouldn’t it? Does it seem odd to read a book about war and about music and art?

CM: No, because during the war, many people tried to keep their hope up. Lots of people tried to do things that let other people feel more comfort during that time. Made them feel better. People just did that until one day, the war was finished. So—

AUNT KATH: You’re studying World War II right now?

CM: Yes, you know back then – World War II – There is the book called Elephants Run – I really recommend it. This is a book about this guy who during the war, his parents thought it would be safer to move to Burma with his father. His parents are divorced. His father owns a plantation. So right now, we are reading it and it is very, very good. CM: So, if you want to learn more about hope in a war, or something like that, you should really read that. My Grandpa was one of those people who was in the war.

AUNT KATH: Do you like music?

CM: I play the saxophone for my band and I really like doing it. So, I love music. Right now in music, we are doing commercials. We are making commercials.

AUNT KATH: Have you ever been really sad and is there music that you listen to when you’re sad?

Calliope’s Book List.  
Credit:  user:Stilfehler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


  • Elephant Run by Roland Smith, 2009
  • Out of the Dust , Karen Hesse, 2009
  • Old Yeller by F. Gipson, Newberry Honor Book 1995
  • The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood, 1995


The books that give me comfort are usually those ones that have pretend or fantasy. Fable Haven is a good one. Brotherband Stories. Keepers of the Lost Cities. Lots of people read those. They even have fan clubs all around the world.

Percy Jackson is a very well-known character. The Olympians is about this guy who finds out he’s a demigod. And then there’s a camp called Camp Half-Blood. Some of you will be familiar with it. He goes on these quests to save humans from the bad gods. All the monsters are real, too, in the books. It’s a cool series if you like – It has a lot of mythology in it. If you like the gods as people. Say, like Dionysus – All he does is sit around and drink wine all day.

  • Fable Haven by Brandon Mull, 2006
  • Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan
  • Keepers of the Lost Cities Series by Sharon Messenger, 2013
  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan, 2005 – 2009
  • Camp Half-Blood Chronicles by Rick Riordan, 2014

CM: When I’m sad, I just turn on my radio to 97.9, but when that’s commercial, I turn it to 97.1. You should give it a try. It’s really good music.

CM: The books that make me sad – have you ever heard of Old Yeller? It is a very sad book. The movie isn’t as good because it doesn’t show the bull fight, but otherwise, the book is so good, but very sad.

AUNT KATH: So what do you think kids can learn from a sad book?

CM: Well, there is a book called The Man who Loves Clowns is such a sad book. This guy had a disability but he ends up dying. What you could learn is that sometimes just don’t make fun of people for being different. Because The Man Who Loves Clowns is one of those books. It’s a very, very sad, but it’s a good book.

AUNT KATH: One more thing about Echoes from the Square – Is this the sort of book you’d recommend kids read to learn about other countries?

CM: Sort of. I know there is this very good Spanish book, or if you wanted to learn about a certain country, you could get a nonfiction book. Otherwise, this book is amazing and I’d recommend it if you want to learn more about the war, It’s about hope and if you’re going through a tough time, it is definitely a fun read. I definitely recommend it.

For the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club, I’m Calliope in Wichita, Kansas. I’ll see you soon! Hasta la vista!

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Kathleen Holt has served High Plains Public Radio—in one way or another—since its inception in 1979. She coordinates the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club.