Petros' war

Kedros, 1971
Metaichmio, 2011

1974 Mildred L. Batchelder Award (USA)

Petros, a nine-year-old boy, is very sad because his cricket is dead. His elder sister, Antigone, wants to give him the box of her bracelet for burying it. Petros prefers to squeeze it in the crevice of the girder. But he doesn’t get the chance. The next morning he is abruptly waken up by his mother. “Wake up and get ready. There’s war! Can’t you hear the sirens?” It is the 28th of October 1940. Petros knows about war from his books. He is thrilled by heroes, shields, swords and victories. Is it the same in reality? 

Young Petros lives the war, occupation and resistance together with his parents, his sister, his grandfather and his turtle, Theodore. We follow him on his long walk through all the real adventures that take place between October 1940 and October 1944, when Greece was liberated. 

It has been translated into 12 languages.

Also available in a collector’s limited edition, issued on the occasion of the Literary Year of Alki Zei.

Foreign editions

Petros idet po gorodu, Erevan: Sovetakan Groh, 1979 (Armenian)
Petros’ war, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co, 1972 (English)
Petros’ war, London: Victor Gollancz, 1972 (English)
La guerra de Petros, Barcelona: Empuries, 1991 (Catalan)
Petros’ krig, Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1986 (Danish)
Tama on sotaa Petros, Helsinki: Werner Soderstrom Osakeyhtio, 1973 (Finnish)
La guerre de Petros, Paris: Grand Angle Editions G.P., 1976 (French)
La guerre de Petros, Paris: Le Livre de poche, Hachette Jeunesse, 1984 (French)
Mit 13 ein Mann, Berlin: Der Kinderbuchverlag, 1977 (German)
La storia di Petros, Milano: Mondadori, 1991, 1996 (Italian)
Petros og krigen, Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1974 (Norwegian)
Petros idet po gorodu, Moscow: Detskaja Literatura, 1974 (Russian)
La guerra de Petros, Barcelona: Fontanela, 1984 (Spanish)
Petros’un Savaşi, Istanbul: Gozlem Yayinlari, 1980 (Turkish)


Local colour is not obtrusive; indeed, except for a few references to peculiar Greek festivals and foods, the scene might be any city of occupied Europe. Young readers may not take to the somewhat poetical patriotism of the young Greeks but most of the dialogue seems natural enough and often humorous. All the characters are vivid but one is outstanding -the hero’s rather disreputable gamin friend, a kind of Athens Cockney, whose mischief is turned against the Germans but in the end costs him his life. Girls should find this story as absorbing as boys, for young Petros has an older sister and girl students play an important part in resistance activities. It is a book well worth having on school and public library shelves and deserves wide readership in the 11 to 13 age range.

Michael Thomas, The Times Educational Supplement, 26/1/1973

Read Alki Zei’s Petros’ War, if only to admire the courage and ingenuity of little Petros who, as Resistant in Greece, made life miserable for the Italian and German Occupants.

The New York Times Book Review