What is a conscientious objector and how could a conscientious objector possibly be a hero?
‘An Unknown Hero’ is a novel that is set in rural NZ with believable characters and happenings. It follows Matt’s fears and triumphs while also giving an insight into the life of Archibald Baxter, an ordinary kiwi bloke with a strong, determined and extraordinary mindset who lived years before. A conscientious objector who had to fight for his life, but not in the manner expected when at war. Regarded as a defiant coward who refused to participate on the battlefield, yet fighting one heck of a battle of his own to be later heralded as a hero.
Matt Turner takes up a challenge and speaks out about pacifism in World War 1, as part of a school project. This 12 year-old leads his classmates and their families to appreciate the value of individual rights and freedom of thought. His audience is horrified by the actions of those in authority, during the war, who brutally persecuted others for holding beliefs that didn’t align with their own. An unknown truth and an unexpected hero.
To know more of Baxter’s story, source the School Journal, Level 4, March 2012. Reading this true account with children would give them a greater understanding of this ‘unexpected hero’.
This book has warmth and humour and is a great read for young people of 10 years +. I highly recommend ‘An Unexpected Hero’ as it has a powerful message that transcends time.
Title: An Unexpected Hero
Author: L P Hansen
Publisher: Create Books NZ
Date of Publication: 2014
Name: Ali Kersten, Teacher Librarian, Hereworth School, Hawke’s Bay
Recommendation: Highly recommend
Opening sentence: Matt rummaged in his backpack, pretending to be looking for something so he could be the last one getting on the bus.
You can buy this book here
Linda Hansen lives in Wellington and is available through the Writers in Schools programme.