WAR STORIES

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Historical novels do not appeal to many readers. They tend to look old fashioned and often the authors are interested in the historical aspects rather than in the novel.  As the Grade 7 pupils deal with World War 11 as part of their curriculum,  I have decided to review some of the good war stories in the library.  From these tales, I hope the reader will experience a bit more of the tough time it was for so many.  I have tried also to list them in order of  the historical sequence.  Mrs D Pletzer
Note:  Look for the highlighted word in the synopsis to indicate where the story takes place and the subject of the story.

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THE SILVER SWORD by IAN SERAILLIER : Published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. 1956.  This story is set in Poland.  Shortly after the Nazis overrun Warsaw, the lives of the Balickis change forever.  Joseph, the father is interned in a remote and austere prison camp.  Their mother is then taken away as a slave labourer.  The children escape and thanks to the courage and resourcefulness of the eldest, Ruth, they manage to survive. They never give up on their hopes of finding their parents again.  This is a marvellous story of excitement, courage, love and humour.  It is a must read.   Grade 4-7
 
ISBN 1 435 12039 5
DUNKIRK SUMMER by PHILIP TURNER : Published by Hamish Hamilton Children’s Books Ltd. London, 1973.  Andrew Birch would never forget the summer of 1940.  It was the time of the  “phony war”.  The war in Europe was progressing swiftly as the German armies marched triumphantly through the western countries.  England was bracing herself for invasion.  Andrew was one of the many children evacuated from London to the countryside.  He would never forget how he tried to stow away on the Painted Lady to help with the rescue at Dunkirk, or the day a Messerschmitt crashed on the school field, or the night the incendiary bomb hit the ancient village church.  But he would also not forget the daughter of the village vicar (priest).  Although a little old fashioned in the courtship department, the story moves swiftly and is certainly not boring.
 
ISBN 241 02321 1
GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM by MICHELLE MAGORIAN : Kestrel Books 1981.  Little Willie Beech is one of the young evacuees to be sent to the country.  He is a sad, deprived child who slowly begins to flourish under the care of crusty old Tom Oakley.  Willie is accepted and loved for the first time in his life.  Then his new-found happiness is shattered by a summons from his mother back in London......   A heart-warming story.
 
ISBN 0-14-031541-1
THE BEST THREE EVER by  HAMPTON.  Another heartwarming story that takes place during World War 11.  James is evacuated from London.  He stays with a lovely couple, enjoys his new school, excels in the soccer team, makes friends with a gypsy and learns of the prejudice against gypsies.  He also is involved in an exciting rescue of a downed RAF pilot.  Reviewed elsewhere, this is a good read for the reluctant reader.
 
         
DARK RIVER, DARK MOUNTAIN by SYLVIA SHERRY:  Jonathan Cape London 1975.   Colin North is sent away from his bomb–ravaged home to stay with elderly relatives.  He often feels lonely.   He works on a nearby farm and in his spare time explores the caves and pot-holes of the mountain behind the village.  When the invasion of England by Germany seems imminent, strange things begin happening.  This story is an exciting and convincing thriller.  Colin also becomes increasingly independent and grown up and there is a spine-chilling twist of horror at the end.
 
ISBN 0 224 01069 7
THE DOLPHIN CROSSING  by JILL PATON WALSH  : Macmillan London 1967.  John and Pat, an evacuee from the slums of London, become firm friends despite their very different backgrounds.  When news comes of the soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, they secretly take John’s father’s boat – “the Dolphin” – across the Channel to help with the evacuation.  What follows is an exciting, shocking experience as they find themselves in the thick of the fighting, having to make decisions and deal with the hardships. This is a wonderfully exciting story about two young heroes ...  Although set in 1940, it is not old fashioned and certainly gives a good account of the rescue.
 
ISBN 333 09096 9
THE SNOW GOOSE by PAUL GALLICO  : Published by Michael Joseph Ltd. London 1941.   This story – the legend of Dunkirk - is one of the minor classics of World War 11.  It deals with the story of an injured snow goose that was brought to the grotesquely, crippled Philip Rhayader by a young child from the nearby fishing village.  Although desperately frightened by the ugly man, she knew he could help the injured bird.   While the bird healed, Frith visited the lighthouse home of Rhayader but when summer came, the bird left and he was lonely once more.  But the bird returned and so did Frith.  Rhayader responded to the call for help to evacuate the soldiers at Dunkirk in his little boat. The Snow Goose  went  with him. The story is  taken up by the soldiers he rescued. A beautiful and touching story that will leave a lump in the throat.
 
         
FIREWEED by JILL PATON WALSH  : Macmillan And Co. Ltd. 1969.  Both children are runaways – Bill from an unhappy evacuation to a Welsh farm and Julie from the ship that was to take her to Canada.  While London burns during that terrible autumn, the two children manage to remain undetected and manage to survive against all odds until disaster strikes.  An  exciting and enjoyable book.
 
ISBN 333 10618 0
THE KINGDOM BY THE SEA by ROBERT WESTALL : Methuen Children’s Books 1990.   Harry survives the bombing of Newcastle but his parents, sister and his home are gone.  He can’t bear to be sent to Cousin Elsie so he runs away.  An incredible journey begins.. .  Harry is alone but for Don, a dog, bombed out like himself, whom he finds on the beach.  Together they scrounge food, find friends but are continually on the move from danger.  Very readable.. Grade 6/7
 
ISBN 0 7497 0796 8
ANNE FRANK : THE UPSTAIRS ROOM by JOHANNA REISS  : Published by Oxford University press 1973.
When the Germans Occupied Holland, the Jews who hadn’t escaped in time were either forced to go to labour camps and to their deaths or they had to go into hiding.  This story is based on the authoress’ own childhood experience.  Annie and her sister endure two years confined in the upstairs room of a farm house.  It is a simple human story that embodies the daily tensions, fears, irritations, boredom and danger.  It also tells of the Gentile family who took them in, aware of the harsh penalties if found out.
 
ISBN 0 19 271354 x
JONES'S PRIVATE NAVY  by SHOWELL STYLES : Faber & Faber London 1969.  The Corvette, Campion is racing to evacuate the remnants of the defeated British army from Crete when it is blown up by German planes.  Lieut. David Jones is the sole survivor.  He manages to swim to a nearby island to find it occupied by Germans. This is the start of a series of unusual adventures with some unlikely companions.  Exciting and enjoyable.
 
 
ISBN 571 08966 6