What Is War?
Both of these books are, sadly, hugely topical right now.
In Migrants, this sometimes emotive subject is explored in a matter of fact and dispassionate way. Eduard Altarriba explains that people have always been on the move since early humans migrated out of Africa to Europe and Asia more than a million years ago. He looks at borders between countries and why they exist, passports and visas that are required to cross them, how some countries colonised and created others, and discusses the reasons why migration might take place.
There is an excellent map showing the main migrant routes used in the last thirty five years. For some people it proves impossible to obtain the documents needed to cross borders so they have no option but to use often dangerous, unofficial routes and this leaves them open to exploitation by criminal gangs of traffickers.
The author covers the topic thoroughly yet succinctly, posing questions and answering them, progressing logically from one explanation to the next, with just the right amount of detail for older KS2 readers,
The same is true of What Is War? which is equally well-designed and illustrated. Altarriba’s approach is non-partisan and he explains that conflict between two clashing viewpoints, if unresolved through diplomacy or politics, may lead to violence and war. Disputes might be about borders or between different ethnicities, social or political groups within a country, in defence of national interests or historical grievances.
There are spreads about the principal actors involved, both national and international, the power brokers, the weapons and technology deployed. There’s a timeline stretching from ‘warring’ Neolithic hunters to the 20th century, a look at the types of war and the concept of a ‘just war’, a spread explores how a war might end and peace and mediation. This is followed by a brief look at the consequences of war both on individuals and societies.
The book concludes with three case studies: North Korea, the war in Syria and the war in Ukraine. War is a topic that, from questions they ask, worries many primary children, some of whom currently have Syrian and Ukrainian classmates.
I would strongly recommend adding both titles to upper primary class collections.