FCBG Children’s Book Award Blog Tour: While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle

Welcome to my stop on the Children’s Book Award Blog Tour! 

Today I am delighted to share a blog from Phil Earle all about his shortlisted title While The Storm Rages.

First a little information about the award itself.

The Children’s Book Award is the only national award for children’s books that is voted for entirely by children. It is owned and coordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and is highly respected by teachers, parents and librarians. It has brought acclaim and strong sales to past winners such as J.K. Rowling, Patrick Ness, Andy Stanton, Malorie Blackman, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Morpurgo, who has won a record four times. The award has often been the first to recognise the future stars of children’s fiction and has the ability to turn popular authors into bestsellers.

Who will win? Children nationwide are now invited to vote for their favourite of the ten shortlisted books. The deadline for online voting is 12 noon on Friday 12th May.  The category winners and the author of the best children’s book published in the 2022 nomination period will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony which takes place in Central London on Saturday 10th June, and will be live-streamed.

Vote online here – www.fcbg.org.uk/childrens-book-award-2023/.

Now over to Phil Earle who has kindly written this guest piece about While The Storm Rages.

History can be unbelievably harsh, packed with horrors and unbelievable cruelty. So should we leave it where it is, or should we show it for what it is, in the hope that we never make the same mistake again?

As soon as I read about the great animal massacre of 1939, I knew I had to write about it: to try and make sense of it, if nothing else. Imagine the scene, it’s September 1939, and your father has just marched off to war. Before he leaves, you make him a promise: to behave, to not give your mum any lip, and above all else, to look after his beloved dog, Winn. You wouldn’t refuse, would you? Imagine two weeks later then that a government booklet drops on your doorstep, telling you to have your animal put to sleep. That due to the incoming bombs and destruction, this is the safest and kindest thing to do. Many, many people faced this dilemma when ‘Air Raid Precaution For Animals’ dropped onto their doormat. Many people panicked. Who can blame them? And as a result of that booklet, 750,000 innocent animals saw their lives ended in just 30 days. That’s twice as many pets killed as British soldiers in the entirety of the war.

When I first read this, I thought it must have been made up, the ultimate shaggy dog story. But it wasn’t, and when I realised this, I knew there was a story for me to tell. The only question I needed to ask was: what if? What if, when the booklet was delivered, the boy whose dad had marched off to fight, said no? What if he kept his promise and kept the dog safe, no matter what.

I loved Noah as soon as he popped into my head. He’s not like me. He’s braver for starters. He acts in the moment, driven by his overwhelming impulses. He loves his dog, and he loves his dad (he IS more like me in this regard) and though he is hugely reckless, he is overwhelmingly pure in his every intention. None of what he does is for himself. It’s for those he adores and because he needs to keep his promise. I hope that Noah’s journey is an entertaining one to follow. I hope it leaves you breathless by the end. I love reading books like that, so it’s wonderful to have it recognised by this brilliant shortlisting. To be on a shortlist where every vote is cast by children is a bit special. So thank you. And happy reading.

Thank you, Phil. I loved Noah too! This is the last post in the blog tour to mark the announcement of the Children’s Book Award shortlists and if you missed any of the previous posts you can see where to find them in this graphic below. Thank you to the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and particularly Erin Hamilton for their help in preparing this post.

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