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The Big Topic: WWI and WWII

The Big Topic brings together Hachette Children’s Group books across a particular topic into a handy set of resources for schools. Look out for lesson plans, author videos, extracts, posters and more.

Our topics this term are WWI and WWII, with a focus on two fantastic books from well-loved authors David Almond and Julia Donaldson. The lesson plans for War is Over and Bombs and Blackberries have been written by Heather at Reading Rocks.

WWI Resources

War is Over by David Almond

It’s 1918, and war is everywhere. John’s dad is fighting in the trenches. His teacher says that John is fighting, too, that he is at war with enemy children in Germany. One day, John has an impossible moment, a chance meeting with a German boy, and catches a glimpse of a better, peaceful world.

A vivid, moving and beautifully illustrated new story from David Almond.

Find out more here.

Download an extract from War is Over

Download the KS2 Lesson Plan

Watch a video of David Almond talking about War is Over – David talks about the story and why its message is still so relevant today, as well as doing a wonderful reading of the scene in the munitions factory.

Further reading

Discover the true stories of two families, whose sons fought in the trenches during WWI, and their different fates on Armistice Day in 1918 in this blog post by author Sarah Ridley. The blog includes photos and letters from the families. Read Armistice Day 1918: A Tale of Two Families here.

Winnie’s Great War – the remarkable true story of the real-life bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, and her journey from Canada to London as mascot for the Veterinary Corps in WWI. Find out more here.

Assembly topic idea: Why do we wear poppies?


WWII Resources

Bombs and Blackberries (play script)  by Julia Donaldson

World War Two has been declared and the Chivers children are sent to the safety of the countryside. They are delighted to be brought back home when it looks like the Germans aren’t going to invade after all. But the air-raid siren goes off and this time it’s frighteningly real.

This dramatic and touching play brings Manchester during the Second World War and its people to life, and provides a variety of opportunities for school classes to explore both historical and literacy topics in an involving and creative setting. It also includes helpful tips on staging and costume.

Find out more here.

Download Scene One.

Download KS1 Lesson Plan

Download KS2 Lesson Plan


The Lost Magician by Piers Torday

1945. They have survived the Blitz, but when Simon, Patricia, Evelyn and Larry step through a mysterious library door, it is the beginning of their most dangerous adventure yet. They discover the magical world of Folio, where an enchanted kingdom of fairy knights, bears and tree gods is under threat from a sinister robot army.

The many stories of the Library are locked in eternal war, and the children’s only hope is to find their creator – a magician who has been lost for centuries. What they find will change not just their own lives, but the fate of the world, for ever …

An ode to the world of Narnia, The Lost Magician is a classic in the making and a spell-binding class read. Find out more here.


Download and print out free The Lost Magician bookmarks for your class here.



We asked author Piers Torday about his inspiration for the book and why he chose to set it against the backdrop of WWII. He also did a fantastic reading from the start of the book, which you can watch below and is sure to have your class gripped and wanting to hear more!

Watch all the videos here