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Son of a Gun (World Wide Kidz #2)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  250 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Based on true stories of former child soldiers interviewed by the author in Liberia, Son of a Gun describes the journey of a brother and sister, ten-year-old Lucky and eight-year-old Nopi, who are kidnapped from school and forced to become child soldiers.
Lucky and Nopi manage to escape with the help of older children. They track down their parents, but then must flee agai
Paperback, 125 pages
Published April 18th 2012 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (first published September 1st 2006)
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Rating details
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Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 11th-grade
Although it was not my kind of book, I'm sure many people would like it. It refreshes your mind on how awful it is for families living in Liberia. The villages are attacked and burned down, and families have spread apart. I learned that the kids are forced into joining the army and have to learn about how to shoot a gun and kill other kids at the earliest age of 10. I was horrified and I think this is a good quick book to read if you want to be educated on today's world issues.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
The subject of this book is child soldiers, in this instance in the country of Liberia, during its civil war. It's a harsh and harrowing topic for a children's book, yet de Graaf manages to convey the horror of it without going into too many of the gory details. The story describes how Lucky and his sister Nopi are kidnapped from school and forced to work for soldiers, eventually becoming ones themselves. This is happening even now in places around the world. What angers me in this instance is t ...more
Nicole Glaser
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: libs-678
I’m torn on what age I think this book is best suited for. Can young readers identify with Lucky and Nopi? Is it imperative that they do? It was a hard read as a parent and a lover of children. This concept of child soldiers seems so foreign to me, even after acknowledging that it happens more often than I’d like to read about. I liked how to narration changed and I like how every once in a while you knew you were reading the words of an older narrator, not the young child solider. I couldn’t he ...more
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is based on a true story of a brother and sister who were captured when they were 8 and 10 years old to become soldiers during the Civil War in Liberia, Africa. This book did not win any awards, but it got an excellent review from School Library Journal and has been recognized by The American Library Association, The Poetry Center, and the United States Board on books for young people in 2013.

Nopi and Lucky, nicknames, are brother and sister. They are captured in school after their te
Jul 14, 2013 added it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Intermediate

Genre: Biography

Discussion Questions:
REMEMBER: Who were the main characters?
-The main characters were Lucky and Nopi. Nopi was the older sister to Lucky, her younger brother.

UNDERSTAND: What was the main idea?

-The main idea was to share the story of how Lucky and Nopi survived the war in Liberia. It explained how the kids stayed together and found their parents until again their parents were kidnapped and the second time around they got separated. It’s a great ending,
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
Citation: Son of a Gun, by Anne de Graff. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2012). 125p. Realistic Fiction.

Summary: Eleven year old Nopi and her eight year old brother Lucky are kidnapped and forced to fight for years in Liberia’s tribal warfare during the mid 1990’s.

Critique: (a.) In this short juvenile fiction novel it is author Anne de Graff’s writing style and her choice to use the voices of children affected by the surrounding African warfare that brings this world to life. (b.) How are c
Angela Bailey
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Son of a gun. / Anne de Graff. / 2012.

Genre: Young Adult - Historical Fiction.

Format: Book - print (chapter book). 121 pages.

Plot summary:
“Eight-year-old Liberian Lucky, his ten-year-old sister Nopi, and their schoolmates are kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers, but even after they escape along with some other children and are reunited with their parents, their lives will never be the same. Includes chapter about Liberia” (NoveList).

Considerations or
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
When he was eight, soldiers invaded Lucky’s school, killed his teachers and forced him and his ten-year-old sister Nopi to become soldiers in the Liberian Civil War. They were beaten, drugged, and armed with AK-47s forced to kill or be killed.

De Graaf’s novel for children, told in alternating first person accounts addressed to the reader by Lucky and Nopi, gives a simple, stark and often gruesome account of warfare in the eyes of the young combatants. The book is based on stories she heard from
Debra Zager
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-678
This was difficult book for me to read. I can't imagine the horror that those children lived and that haunts them still. I know a family that immigrated from El Salvador after the son of one of their good friends was taken and forced into the army. They left everything in fear that it would happen to their thirteen year old son, as well. In coming to the United States, they faced prejudice and had to give up their careers, a physician and college professor to start here working at a soup factory ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 47-books, gr-7
It was a good story, but I felt it was too basic.
Ginta Harrigan
“Son of a Gun” is a true story of children in Liberia forced to be soldiers and fight in battle.

“Son of a Gun” was written by award-winning author Anne de Graaf. Ms. De Graaf interviewed the former child soldiers and compiled their stories into a book. Parts of the book are very descriptive and well written. For example, de Graaf writes in the prologue of Lucky turning in his AK-47 (also known as his God) in the United Nations gun buyback program. She describes him placing it on the pile of weap
Sandi Rossman
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
I reviewed this book for the literature circle 4 category. The source was Dr. Kimmel.

This book chronicles the experiences of two child soldiers: 10 year old Nopi and her eight year old brother Lucky. Told from alternating points of view, the reader is immersed in a dark world where the innocence of children is stolen and the gun is god of the land. Readers stand in awe at the atrocities these and countless other children witness, participate in, and try to run away from in order to survive.

The w
Chris Connolly
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs-642
Category (Literature Circle Book)
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1. Description

The 14-year war that occurred in Liberia during the early eighties and nineties prompted rebelled forces to not only kill many innocent people but raid their homes and steal goods and food and even use them for shelters. Many innocent children had the misfortune of being chosen to be captured and forced to learn how to use weapons for warfare. What happened to these children was something that no American child co
Kelsey Borchers
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
Wow this book was amazing! I really was not sure what to expect from this book because I had not previously heard of it before. However, I had studied a little bit about the child soldiers and have found it to be a very powerful story. This book proved to be very moving and perfect for a young reader. The story is told through the eyes of a brother and sister who have different experiences during this horrible time of war in their tumultuous home country. They are separated from their own parent ...more
Cathi Jo
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs678
What an utterly heart-wrenching story and the fact that it is a true account made that much more impact. I really liked the way the story was told, with varying viewpoints from the older sister and her younger brother. Having these different perspectives really allowed the reader to see the difference in reactions and how each young child was affected by this terrible tragedy that happened over such an extended period of time in their early development. I also really enjoyed the way it seemed Lu ...more
Cynthia Housianitis
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642

Junior Book Project
Category: Literature Circle #4
Source: Kimmel; Batchelder Honor Book of 2013

Graaf, Anne. Son of a Gun. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Books for Younger Readers, 2012.

Written by Anne De Graaf, this book concentrates on a coming-of-age story for a sister and brother: ten-year-old Nopi and eight-year-old Lucky. These children have to abandon all dreams as they are captured and forced to become child soldiers in the Liberian Civil War. During this time, the siblings face difficult decision
Stacy Bowden
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs642
Son of a Gun is a heartbreaking story told alternately through the eyes of siblings, Lucky and Nopi, who endure the hardships of capture and servitude in the child armies of Africa. This book brings to light the struggles, hardships, and abuse suffered by those children who are kidnapped in order to fill the ranks of child armies.

Point of view is an important element in this story. By alternating between the stories of Nopi and Lucky, the author is able to paint a more complete picture of their
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This book was a wide awakening as to what is happening in different parts of the world. As with Yummy, the main characters are children whose lives change dramatically because of the violence in their lives. Lucky and Nopi are children growing up in Liberia. Civil war has engulfed this country the size of Tennessee. As in many urban settings here in the US, Lucky's village finds themselves battling former friends from different villages. They are not choosing to fight, but are rather being force
Diane Ferbrache
Lucky is 10 and his sister, Nopi, is 12 when soldiers appear suddenly at their school, assault their teachers and drag the students off to war. This is life in Liberia in 1998, and in a series of wars that pit neighbor against neighbor, boys become soldiers and girls become wives. In a fictionalized version of the real life traumas of children who once dreamed of being soccer stars and now only dream of being home with family and going to school, de Graaf tries to send home the message of how l ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs678
I had some trouble finishing this book because I was in the midst of moving to Florida for my college program and kept falling asleep from exhaustion. Because of this, I am planning on reading it again so that I can get the full experience I feel I usually get with a book.

This book was very emotionally evoking for me; I am extremely passionate about advocating for children and students and am strongly inspired by stories like those found in the Ron Clark Story and Freedom Writers. Because of thi
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs678
“Son of a Gun” written by Anne De Graff is a coming of age story for a brother and sister. They are forced to grow up when they are captured and taken from their homes to fight in a time of war. They face decisions and situations no child should ever have to endure. Traumatic experiences like being kidnapped, beaten, losing the ability to hear, murder, hunger, exhaustion, and separation tarnish their childhoods.

In Chapter 10 Lucky says, “Think instead about your own heart and all that is preci
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 642

Genre: Realistic fiction

Summary: Son of a Gun is a story of a brother and sister who are kidnapped by soldiers in Liberia. They are taken from their family and put through rough conditions while they narrate their experiences to the reader. The author based these characters on child soldiers she had interviewed creating a very genuine story for the reader to experience.

a. Tone/Style

b. I really liked how the book was narrated by the children. Their tone is specific to their perspective
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
Assignment: Junior Book Log
Category: Literature Circle 4
Recommending Source: Dr. Kimmel
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Review: Laying upon the sandy shores with the sunshine beaming, waves stroking, and the vast ocean in plain sight, what more can you ask for as a child brought up by the beach? Nopi and Lucky will tell you, most importantly, that they would like an education and a chance to be free. Set in the jungles of Liberia, the city streets of Monrovia, and hiding in and out among the rainforest a
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a moving story! I love how de Graaf really targeted younger readers in her Author's Note and asks them to put themselves in Lucky and Nopi's shoes. I think this story would be suitable for any grades 6-12 as de Graaf is especially careful in tactfully addressing difficult situations. For example, Nopi is described as a wife to a rebel leader, but doesn't go into detail as to her "duties" of a wife. Lucky describes having to kill a young child, but doesn't describe it in full. I think that d ...more
Erin Phillips
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
One of my favorite books for this class! This is a story of a young brother and sister who are forced to face hardships during civil wars in Liberia. A frightening, heart-wrenching story that leaves you gasping, hurting for the characters and eventually smiling. The children must learn to survive on their own, while survival becomes more difficult because of the complicated situations they are faced with. The children learn that parts of them have "died" because of the harsh reality they are fac ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
This isn’t a particularly fun book to read, as you get the idea from the description of it as being about child soldiers in Liberia. However, it really doesn’t dwell to much on the killing or the awfulness of the deeds, focusing instead on healing and forgiveness. It is somewhat graphic for a book for children although I don’t quite think this is really a teen book either- the protagonists are 8 and 10 at the beginning and likely 13 and 15 at the end. A lot of the violence, particularly the repe ...more
Amanda Howell
Dec 03, 2013 added it
Shelves: libs-642
Junior Reading Log: Literature Circle 4

This book was very sad! A young boy was taken from school one day and turned into a boy soldier in Africa. This is something that is happening and that students need to be aware of when they are mature enough to handle it. This story brings into light the implications of war and what it can do to not only the people fighting in it but also their loved ones. War effects the entire family in this story. Nothing will ever be the same when they come back togeth
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs-678
Honestly, after the first few pages of this book, I wanted to put it down. Any situation dealing with atrocities toward children is so disturbing to me that I usually have to walk away from it. I suppose that's probably why I can't watch shows like Nancy Grace anymore - it's just too emotionally overwhelming to deal with.

However, while the thought of these children being kidnapped and turned into little soldiers was horrific, I was drawn to Lucky and Nopi, feeling the need to keep reading just
Mary Harris
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-678
My Reaction: I loved this book. I majored in history in undergrad and learned about this war in Liberia. I thought it was well written and suspenseful. At the same time I felt sorry for Lucky and Nopi. Unfortunately, child soldiers are all over the world, although I first learned about them in Africa. I really liked the book it struck a chord with me.

Curriculum Connection: I think this book would be great for a history lesson. I think it could be used to supplement a text book. I know growing up
Hillary Forrest
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
This book, Son of a Gun by Anne de Graff, was recommended by Professor Kimmel as a Literature Circle reading selection. The story unveiled in this novel is extraordinary and powerful. This is the tale of a brother and sister, Lucky and Nopi and their brutal experiences as children soldiers in the Liberian War.

One moment you are sitting down learning the lessons presented by your teacher and the next the building is being ransacked by soldiers who snatch you up to take you a way to the unknown.
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