Patryk and Jurek are as much friends as rivals in the small Russian-occupied Polish village where they live. When, in August 1914, Patryk finds an old button on the forest floor, Jurek becomes wildly jealous. Not long after, World War I comes to Poland, bringing one invading army after another to the village. Jurek devises an exciting dare among the seven boys in their pack: whoever steals the best military button will be Button King. The boys agree. The contest is on. The competition escalates from stealing uniform buttons on a wash line to looting the bodies of dead soldiers to setting up an ambush. Leading the charge is Jurek, who will do anything to be Button King. It’s only Patryk who tries to stop Jurek’s increasingly dangerous game before it leads to deadly consequences.
Finalist for the Silver Birch AwardWinner of the 2002 Information Book Award When World War I began in 1914, no one knew that millions of young people would die in the agonizing years ahead. No one imagined the effect it would have on family life, or that whole villages would disappear, or thatentire nations would be changed forever. They believed their sons and daughters, mothersand fathers would be home by Christmas. They were tragically mistaken. With photos, memorabilia, and anecdotes, Linda Granfield brings us face-to-face withpeople from all walks of life who risked everything for their country. These painstakingly-gathered bits and pieces are remnants of conflict on a scale never before witnessed. Hastily-penned letters, notes written in code, and prayers for deliverance form an eloquent portrait of humanity, and a startling comment on the devastation of war.