War Games

By Audrey Couloumbis and Akila Couloumbis

War Games

1941. Greece. When the Germans invade, neighbors become enemies. People begin to keep secrets. And for the first time, 12-year-oldPetros has the chance to prove himself to his older brother, Zola. Soon what were once just boys’ games become matters of life and death as Petros and Zola each wonder if, like their Resistance fighter cousin, they too can make a difference. Based on the true story of Akila Couloumbis’s wartime boyhood, Newbery Honor-winner Audrey Couloumbis, writing with her husband Akila, explores what it was like coming of age in Nazi-occupied Greece, and tells a story of family, friendship, and unlikely heroes.


“Akila Couloumbis’s wartime memories come alive. . .easily read narrative, lively with dialogue, ends with a symbolic triumph. Meanwhile, by clarifying priorities and loyalties, the hostilities precipitate reconciliation among the various brothers. A gripping story.”                                                                                                                    —Horn Book starred review

“richly detailed novel. . .dangerous games”                                          —NYT Sunday Book Review

“When the Nazi commander comes to live in their house and a cousin active in the underground returns to town, the tension becomes palpable. Based on Akila Couloumbis’s (husband of co-author Audrey) life, this understated novel puts readers right in the middle of a Nazi occupation, with little movie-style high drama but a sure sense of what it was really like—the desire to get on with everyday life, the unease, the secrets and the quiet acts of defiance in the face of life-threatening circumstances. A fine introduction to an important aspect of World War II and to the spirit of resistance the times required.” (Historical fiction. 8-12)               —Kirkus Review

“The Couloumbises craft a poignant and plainspoken account of the everyday impacts of a vast war and the importance of small victories.” Ages 8–12.                         —Publisher’s Weekly, (Oct.)

“The strangeness of the slide from daily life, when playing boy games is an important pasttime, to sudden occupation, when those same games can become a cover for rebellion, is depicted with sharp perceptiveness.”                                                                                 —The Bulletin

“A grand read, and deeply satisfying. Memorable.”                        —School Library Journal

“A Junior Library Guild Selection” for Fall 2009

Maine Student Book Award Nominee, 2010-2011.

A Featured Book in the fourth year of Coming Together in Skokie (2013)

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