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War Brothers - The Graphic Novel

War Brothers

The Graphic Novel

Categories: Children's Fiction
Themes: violence, africa
Interest Age: 12+
Grade: 7+
Reading Level:
Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature:

Reading Level: Lexile GN400L
Paperback : 9781554514885, 176 pages, February 2013 , 9.53" x 6.80"
Hardcover : 9781554514892, 176 pages, February 2013 , 9.76" x 6.95"
Rights sold: Portuguese, Korean, English


The unforgettable novel about one child soldier’s struggle with friendship, courage, and resilience.

Jacob is a 14-year-old Ugandan who is sent away to a boys’ school. Once there, he assures his friend Tony that they need not be afraid—they will be safe. But not long after, in the shadow of the night, the boys are abducted. Marched into the jungle, they are brought to an encampment of the feared rebel soldiers. Told that they must kill or be killed, the boys are thrust into a terrifying struggle to endure and survive.

In time, the boys escape. Hunted by the rebels, stalked by a lion, and even pursued by river crocs, they miraculously succeed in reaching safety; however, it is no longer enough. Jacob’s adventures force him to confront evil, victimization, and the dark side of human nature, but also teach him about loyalty, friendship, and the true meaning of family.

Daniel Lafrance’s striking artwork and the poignant, powerful text capture the very essence of life as a child soldier. Readers will never forget the experiences of this young boy struggling to survive, unsure who to trust, afraid of succumbing to madness, and above all, desperate to get to freedom. In the end, Jacob engineers a daring escape.

This graphic novel is based on the acclaimed novel of the same title, winner of a 2009 Arthur Ellis award. The author spent time in Uganda and based this story on real-life accounts of the horrors inflicted on child soldiers and their victims. This is a story of unthinkable violence, but also one of hope, courage, friendship, and family.


  • Joint winner, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, YALSA 2014
  • Joint winner, Maverick Graphic Novel List, Texas Library Association 2014
  • Short-listed, Cybils Award 2014
  • Winner, Independent Publisher Book Award, Gold 2014
  • Long-listed, Eisner Award, Best Graphic Novel 2014
  • Joint winner, Great Graphic Novels for Teens List, Top Ten YALSA 2014
  • Short-listed, Book of the Year Award, Foreword Reviews 2014
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids and Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre 2014
  • Long-listed, Stellar Book Award 2014
  • Joint winner, USBBY Outstanding International Book Honor List 2014
  • Joint winner, Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, YALSA 2014


“As upsetting as this story is—all the more for its basis in the ongoing reality for children still conscripted into the LRA—McKay doesn’t leave readers without a sense of hope. ”

- Publishers Weekly, *starred review, 04/29/13

“While capturing the horrific tragedy of the life of child soldiers, co-creators Sharon E. McKay and Daniel Lafrance also manage to offer inspiration: war decimates, and yet everlasting bonds can also be forged. ”

- Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, BookDragon, 03/11/13

“This is a sorrowful and all-too-true story, but one that ends on a hopeful note. ”

- Booklist, 04/13

“Not an easy book to read but it is an important book . . . There is no shame in closing this book now. Please don’t. Read it, and then find someone to recommend it to. ”

- Guys LitWire, 04/16/14

“Powerful storytelling based on documented experiences . . . it’s as relevant as ever. ”

- Kirkus, 02/13

“One of the most powerful graphic novels of 2013. ”

- Ich Liebe Comics!,11/10/13

“A truly important work that is well worth the read. ”

- School Library Journal, *starred review, 03/13

“Tells in vivid and harrowing detail the story of children abducted to become soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. ”

- Horn Book Magazine, 07/13

War Brothers is a truly important work both in the original version and in this graphic novel version. ”

- CM Reviews, 09/13

“A powerful narrative, densely layered. ”

- Professionally Speaking, 06/15

“Powerful historical fiction. It is an important story to tell, and this team has done so admirably. ”

- Sal’s Fiction Addiction, 04/02/13

“A challenging, uncompromising work and, in its graphic form, a beautiful treatment of stark ugliness. ”

- Quill and Quire, *starred review, 02/21/13

“With its haunting images and powerful text, this is a story of spirit, friendship, loyalty, and courage. ”

- Skipping Stones, 01/15

“Powerful storytelling based on documented experiences . . . it’s as relevant as ever. ”

- Kirkus, 02/13

“This title would be a great addition to any junior high or high school . . . Highly recommended. ”

- Library Media Connection, 10/04/13

“His story has haunted me for weeks. ”

- School Library Journal, Reaching Reluctant Readers, 03/13

“A great resource to have in any library collection. ”

- VOYA, 04/01/14

“One of the most powerful graphic novels of 2013. ”

- Ich Liebe Comics!,11/10/13

“Everyone needs to read this book!”

- Book Snob, 08/12/14

“This is a must for the classroom. ”

- Canadian Children’s Book News, 04/13

“A great resource to have in any library collection. ”

- VOYA, 08/13

“A powerful narrative, densely layered. ”

- Professionally Speaking, 06/15