Ghosts of War: AWOL in North Africa

Written by Steve Watkins
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Friends and band mates Anderson, Greg and Julie are 6th grade students living in modern-day Fredericksburg, Virginia. In the previous two books of the Ghosts of War series, they discovered a trunk in Anderson’s uncle’s junk shop that contained old war relics. Although they had tried to avoid the trunk since the last near-disaster with a hand grenade, there was an emergency that necessitated the use of a medic kit that was inside. As expected, a ghost appeared shortly after, and the kids had another mystery on their hands.

This case seemed easy at first—the soldier’s identification was fastened to the medic kit, and so Anderson, Greg, and Julie jumped right into researching his records. When they found a living relative, however, the real mystery began as they discovered a packet of letters that had been partially blacked out. Meanwhile the kids were dealing with the ongoing problem of an 8th grade bully, Belman, who seems to be a recurring issue throughout the series.

The amount of information on WWII in North Africa is in depth, yet handled with an easy-to-follow clarity for young readers. This lesser-known part of the war, along with many facts on conscientious objectors and African-American soldiers of the time, makes an intriguing and eye-opening account from two interesting viewpoints. Although recommended for 4th – 6th graders, this book will appeal to anyone who likes WWII stories.