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War Games (Junior Library Guild Selection (Random House)) Hardcover – October 27, 2009

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Series: Junior Library Guild Selection (Random House)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375856285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375856280
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,826,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—In 1941, when Germans occupy their small Greek town and the commandant comes to live in their house, 12-year-old Petros and his family hide their American connections and an escaping Greek resistance fighter as well. Based on Akila Couloumbis's wartime recollections, this novel is a grand read: an adventure full of the particulars of boys' play, and an unusual perspective on World War II lives. From the opening bird-shooting contest, it is clear that for Petros, his older brother, and his friends, these games will also be life-or-death matters. The suspense mounts as first they wait for the Germans, then for the commandant, and finally for a time when their cousin Lambros can move on. Details of farm life are woven naturally into the third-person narrative, with just enough explanation for readers to imagine their way into that world. The authors maintain the boy's perspective, including his conflicting feelings about the German corporal who encourages his play but represents the detested enemy. Realistic family dynamics include sibling rivalries stretching on into adulthood. The climactic violence is believable, and the resolution—though it takes place offstage—is deeply satisfying. Memorable.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD END


Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, November/December 2009:
"A gripping story."

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Warning: There are spoilers in this review!

Life for brothers Petros and Zola is fine. They work in their family's garden, shoot birds, and play with their friends. But when the Germans invade the small Greek town where they live, they decide that they must help with the resistance against the Nazis. They get their friend Elia and their cousin Stavros to help, and together the four boys create a plan. Zola uses mulberry juice as ink, and on paper writes encouraging notes about the war. Then Petros, Elia and Stavros walk around the town, pretending to play ball, as they drop these notes in hope that the Greeks will read them and have a more positive outlook on the resistance's efforts.

Their plan works at first, but when a German commander comes to stay in their house, they have to be much more secretive. They also have to hide the fact that their oldest cousin Lambros, who escaped from the Germans and Italians twice, is hiding in their father's well. Lambros later escapes to his Uncle Spiro's farm safely.

It is an interesting story, based on events that occurred during Audrey Couloumbis' husband's childhood, but the plot is very slow and there is not much action. The very little action in the story happens toward the end, when their cousin Stavros is accidently shot in the ear by the commander (he lives and escapes to Uncle Spiro's farm, like Lambros). I recommend it to other readers who like nonfiction, but it wouldn't be my first choice because the story is rather slow.
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By Nick on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a 10 year old boy and read this book over summer vacation. I chose this book because it was based on a true story and I like to learn about history. If you don't want to know what happens, please be aware there will be spoilers in my review.
The story took place over a few stressful months in the small town of Amphilla, Greece in 1941 and mainly in the home of Petros , a 12 year old boy, and his family. Everyone was afraid of the approaching German army. Since Petro's family had ties with the United States and spoke English, they were especially afraid. They did not want the Germans to think they were spies so they buried anything with English lettering. Zola, Petros's brother, is sixteen years and can't do much outside because the Germans will think he's a soldier. Petros has a cousin named Lambros who is fighting as a Greek soldier. Lambros gets wounded, barely escapes, and comes to hide in their well in the back yard. When the Germans invade their town, a German commander moves in with Petros and his family. The Germany army takes all their good furniture and makes their family give food to the German army. Zola writes letters and passes them out to all the people in the city to give hope and tell them information. Petros sneaks food by the commander out to Lambros. Petros also witnesses a friend of his, Stavros, getting shot by a German soldier and he barely survives. After Stavros fully recovered, he climbed a mountain and flew the Greek flag to give the people hope.
Even though the kids were too young to fight, they showed bravery in many different ways. I thought this book was great. I wish it would have finished after the war was over. This book made me feel as if I was part of Petro's family during World War II.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CanaryKeeper on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dino Karydas
January 9, 2012
LA 6 - Book Review

by Audrey and Akila Couloumbis

Imagine you're living a normal life, even though an enemy is occupying your village, and suddenly ANOTHER enemy invades, bringing war to your village and forcing you and your family into hiding. This is War Games, the story of 12-year-old Petros and his family, who live in the Greek village of Amphissa at the beginning of World War II. Petros and his brother think the war is a game the countries are playing, even though the Italians are occupying their village. Everything becomes much more real when the Germans invade, forcing the villagers to house them, and Petro and his family get the worst of all, the army general. War Games is based on a true story and deserves five out of five stars because the plot was very exciting, the author really showed how war affected the people, and the writing was very descriptive.

I read this book really fast because it was so exciting I wanted to see what happened next. The author ended chapters by really leaving you hanging, like this: "The crunch of boots on the gravel warned Petros of a soldier close by. His stomach tightened, his breath caught. Excitement thrummed in his veins. The soldier gave a shout." (page 80) Even though it's the end of the chapter, you want to keep reading and see what happens.

A very important thing that happens to Petros and his family is that their lives drastically change because of the soldiers coming to their village. Many of Petros's friends have to leave, there's hardly any food, and the soldiers take many of the family's belongings. The author shows this with many examples all through the story. In one part, the family's furniture is taken away.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews on March 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The small, Greek town of Amphissa was fearful. To the kids
in the town, the war was a game. To the adults, it was
inevitable. The adults just didn't know when they would
get there. To Petros and his older brother, Zola, the war
sounded exciting. They heard the stories of their cousin,
Lambros, who climbed the tallest mountain in Greece and
defeated the Germans. The stories always ended the same
way; the Germans are coming to Amphissa. Most people in
the town left out of fear, but Petros and Zola's family
hid all their belongings that may be dangerous. The family
prepared for the worse. Then one day, a jeep arrived at
their house and a German commander starts living with the
family. When anything can endanger their family, Petros
and Zola have to grow up with the enemy in their

War Games by Audrey and Akila Couloumbis is a
nonfictional story that was very anticlimactic. Most of
the book was about the family and town waiting for the
Germans to arrive. There was too much detail about it and
made the book boring. The book started to get interesting
once the German soldiers arrived. The character traits of
the German commander were surprising and significant. The
German commander was not cruel or mean, and the common
stereotypical image people give of Nazis soldiers. The
commander seemed to try to help the family. Considering
this story was based off of a true story, it can change
the stereotypical view and teach someone not to judge.
Besides the German commander, Petros and Zola, the main
characters, showed their distinct personalities well.
Otherwise, I would not recommend this book to others
because of its dullness.

Reviewed by a young adult student reviewer
Flamingnet Book Reviews
Teen books reviewed by teen reviewers
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