Child Soldier

Hardcover Jacket
978-1-77138-126-0 | Sep 1, 2015 List Price:
USD $17.95, CAD $18.95

4-color • 7 1/2 x 9 • 48 pages
Grades: 5 To 9 / Ages: 10 to 14

978-1-5253-0405-7 | Mar 3, 2020 List Price:
USD $10.99, CAD $12.99

Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his school-yard soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Against the odds, Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world, and this book is part of that effort. Told in the first person and presented in a graphic novel format, the gripping story of Michel's experience is moving and unsettling. But the humanity he exhibits in the telling, along with Claudia Dávila's illustrations, which evoke rather than depict the violent elements of the story, makes the book accessible for this age group and, ultimately, reassuring and hopeful. The back matter contains further information, as well as suggestions for ways children can help. This is a perfect resource for engaging youngsters in social studies lessons on global awareness and social justice issues, and would easily spark classroom discussions about conflict, children's rights and even bullying. Michel's actions took enormous courage, but he makes clear that he was and still is an ordinary person, no different from his readers. He believes everyone can do something to make the world a better place, and so he shares what his father told him: “If you ever think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”


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Educational Resources


Global awareness
Conflict and change
Cultures, Local & Global


Guided Reading
Guided Reading Grade Level
Lexile Level



child soldier   true story   democratic republic of Congo   Africa   politics   war   rebel soldiers   forced to kill   violence   poverty   dictator   violence against children   forced drug use   lost childhood   kidnapped   refugee   immigrant experience   global awareness


Teaching Guide
Book Trailer

Reviews & Awards


“Graphic in format but not detail …The visual element gives this memoir particular immediacy for audiences who “don't understand what is happening right now, to kids just like them.”
Kirkus Reviews, April 2015

“… an eye-opening and heartbreaking account of Chikwanine’s kidnapping at the age of five.”
Quill & Quire, June 2015

“… the direct first-person narration lays bare the boy’s confusion and pain …[while] Dávila’s panel sequences temper the story’s atrocities …”
Publishers Weekly, June 2015

“An enlightening, accessible, and, above all, child-friendly introduction to the issue.”
School Library Journal, Starred Review, July 2015

“… Child Soldier conveys Michel’s horrific experience with sensitivity, insight, and skill … also providing readers with relevant information about the geography and history of the country.”
Quill & Quire, Starred Review, July 2015

“The narration includes enough history of the Congo to give context to the personal story, while the back matter provides more information about child soldiers.”
Booklist, August 2015

“An unforgettable book that provides factual information about civil wars and especially child soldiers.”
Resource Links, February 2016


2018 Non-Fiction Award, Grand Canyon Reader Awards, Short-listed
2017 Red Maple Non-Fiction Award, Ontario Library Association, Winner
2017 Golden Oak Award, Ontario Library Association, Short-listed
2016 2016 Book of the Year for Children Award, Canadian Library Association, Short-listed
2016 ALSC Notable Children’s Books - 2016 (Older Readers), American Library Association, Long-listed
2016 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, YALSA, Long-listed
2016 2016/2017 Children’s Choice Book Award, Hackmatack, Long-listed
2016 Information Book Award - Honour Book, Children’s Literature Roundtable of Canada, Winner
2016 Best Publication for Kids, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, Short-listed
2016 Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner
2016 Honor Book, Skipping Stones, Winner
2016 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, Fleck Family Foundation, Short-listed
2016 The Dragon Award, The Joe Shuster Awards, Short-listed
2015 Best Bets Junior Non-Fiction, Ontario Library Association, Winner