In this poignant and thought provoking World War 2 story Tom Palmer weaves together diverse voices to commemorate those who lost their lives during the D-Day Landings and sympathetically answers some of the most difficult questions about war itself. This is a must buy for school libraries.
Historical fiction gives a voice to those who are no longer with us and when it is written for children it enables them to see people from the past as flesh and blood human beings just the same as people today. This well researched and extremely thoughtfully written story will educate young readers as well as entertain them. Tom Palmer has linked together multiple strands and very different voices, bringing them together in a way that makes this difficult subject accessible to children.
Jack and his classmates in Year 6 are shortly to go on a residential trip to Normandy to visit the D-Day Landing beaches. Beforehand they have to learn more about the brave people who gave their lives so that others may have a future. This has particular relevance for Jack as his dad is a reserve soldier who is called up for action. This causes upset at home for Jack and prompts him to question all his previous attitudes to war. He seeks comfort with his beloved dog, Finn and at school starts to find out about a paratrooper who parachuted into France with his dog. As Jack carries out his research and the day of departure on their school trip draws near he learns more than he expected and during his time in Normandy Jack will find answers to his many questions.
In addition to the main storyline Tom Palmer includes a range of diverse characters including a young girl from Syria seeking asylum in the UK and a pupil who receives 1-1 support in the classroom. This never feels contrived but instead strikes a good balance and results in the story feeling true to life and relevant to today’s young readers. Jack himself is a character who children will empathise with, he tries to do the right thing but can make mistakes. His family situation and his relationships with his friends feel believable and as a reader I wanted things to work out well for him.
As with all Barrington Stoke’s books this book is also produced in a dyslexia friendly format and at 180 pages is not too daunting for the more reluctant reader.
This is a book that will make children think but does not preach at them, a tricky task to pull off effectively sometimes but Tom Palmer has achieved it. I would highly recommend this thoughtful book for school libraries and classrooms.
The eye catching cover is designed by Tom Clohosy Cole.
Thank you very much to Kirstin Lamb and Barrington Stoke for providing me with my free review copy.
Tom Palmer’s comprehensive website contains a range of free resources linked to this book which teachers are sure to find useful in the classroom. There are historical details and questions to prompt discussion at the end of the book too. Tom has also written about the inspiration for this important book on my blog here.