Author – Morris Gleitzman
Age – 10+
It’s 1946. The war is over and Felix and his friends Gabriek and Anya are heading back to Gabriek’s farm – keen to live a life without fear. But all does not go to plan and they are soon running for their lives.
The 6th in Morris Gleitzman’s ‘family’ of books about Felix’s life – before, during and after World War 2, Maybe he’ll finally be able to find a life without having to look over his shoulder, avoid death all around him and become the doctor he wants to be?
Maybe this will happen when he wakes up in an airbase? Maybe it will happen when he flies to Australia? But there is always the threat of Zliv, the younger brother of a man they killed in Poland, who does not care that it was in self defense.
Drawn right into the continuing narrative on the very first line, the reader is back in Felix’s life. At age fourteen, he has seen terrible things, lost loved ones and suffered throughout the war. But the war has ended and now he has hope for the future. This ‘family’ of books has been written and intended to be able to be read in any order. Once, Then, After, Now, Soon are as beautiful and heartbreaking as each other. Maybe they’ll be one more in this family?
(War, Loyalty, Courage, Australia, Series)
Author – Emma Carroll
Age – 9+
Olive and her little brother Cliff are evacuated from London after a close call with a bomb. The same night of the bomb, her older sister Sukie went missing. There has been no sign of her and Olive is still trying to figure out what she saw. Sukie was meeting a man. This man gave her something and then held her hand. Was it a secret boyfriend?
They are sent to a small seaside town where Sukie had a penpal. But the supposed penpal doesn’t seem to know a thing about Sukie. Olive has noticed other strange things and behaviour in town and also a coded note in the lining of the coat Sukie was wearing on the night she disappeared. It was all she had left of Sukie from the rubble of the bomb.
With a mystery to solve, friendships to make and suddenly many lives at stake, Olive and Cliff are caught up in a plot of courage and determination. But where is Sukie?
Another great story from Emma Carroll with a twisting and turning plot to keep readers engaged in a young girl’s quest for answers. Along the way she builds her own courage amongst prejudice, distrust and broken hearts from a war that never seems to end.
(Historical, WWII, War, Family, Jews, Courage, Mystery, Evacuee, Siblings, Refugee)
Author – Megan Shepherd
Illustrator – Levi Pinfold
Age – 9+
Emmaline lives in a grand mansion that has been converted to a hospital for sick children. She too is one of the sick, but is still able to explore and go places the other children don’t dare. She is a bit of a loner, as it seems she alone sees the magnificent winged horses in the many mirrors of the hospital. Putting it down to imagination, the nuns that look after them all shrug it off. But the other children aren’t so kind.
One day while exploring places she shouldn’t go, Emmaline finds a real winged horse in the garden behind a wall. It is injured and shy and she is fascinated. But this winged horse is there for a reason. She is hiding from the Dark Horse who is looking for her – a horse with evil intent.
When Emmaline begins finding letters from the Horse Lord about the winged horse (named Foxfire), she learns she is Foxfire’s only hope. She needs to find all the colours of the rainbow to scare the Dark Horse off before he is back at the next full moon.
Whether it be Emmaline’s imagination or something that really happens to her is up to the reader. Emmaline is a feisty, courageous little girl with an inquisitive mind and a sad past. This story is beautifully told and exquisitely illustrated by the exceptional talented Levi Pinfold. Gorgeous!
(WWII, Horses, Animals, Mystery, Quest, Bully, Illness, Hospital)
Author – Allison Rushby
Age – 9+
Flossie is only 12 but has a very important job. She is the Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery in London. WWII is raging around them, with bombs dropped every night, which makes her job quite difficult. As Turnkey, she is responsible for keeping the thousands of people buried at Highgate – at peace.
Flossie herself is also a ghost and can travel around London and even further afield just by thinking of the place. It is one night from St Paul’s Cathedral that she sees someone who shouldn’t be in London. He shouldn’t even exist. The German Soldier she sees is defying the rules of the dead as he hatches a plot to win the war.
With only her ghost friends to help, they follow the SS Officer to try and prevent him causing trouble. Along the way she discovers he is connected to her own past. Now that all of London’s cemetery’s are at risk, not to mention the entire country, she doesn’t know who to trust among the dead. Can Flossie stop him in time?
(Ghost, Friends, WWII, Cemetery, Grief)
Authors – Lila Perl & Marion Blumenthal Lazan
Age – 10+
Marion’s story is another testament to the bravery, courage and determination to live, by a family persecuted for nothing but their religion. This book also explains Hitler’s rise to power in simplistic terms and can be read by anyone 10+
(Holocaust, War, WWII, Jew, Courage, Determination, Prejudice)
ER – AGN
Author – Leonie Agnew
Age – 8+
Vincent is worried about Benjamin, a 6 yr old boy he found on his own after an explosion – lost in the rubble of the war torn city they live in. He is taking him to an orphanage where he hopes someone will look after him. When they arrive Vincent can see how many children there are and how little supervision there is so he decides to stick around for a bit.
A group of children, Lucky, Amos, Sophia and Zaar live in the orphanage, with Lucky as a sort of leader of them all. We find she used to have 5 in her family and she takes Benji under her wing to complete her ‘5’
But when Benji keeps talking to and about Vincent, they all ask who he is talking to? There’s no one there! But he insists the friend who has been looking after him is real.
It’s only when Benji’s belief in Vincent begins to waver that Vincent wonders what he really is. Imaginary friend, ghost or maybe even an angel? If Benji’s imagination has brought Vincent to life in his mind, what else does he imagine?
Children everywhere, have and still do wonder what might be hiding in the closet or wardrobe at night, and Vincent soon meets the monster in the orphanage closet.
Benji’s growing uncertainty at the others insistence that Vincent is not real, and the threat from The Hanger Man from the closet, has Vincent fighting for his very existence. It’s only when all seems lost that Benji finds the answer.
I was surprised at first, at how different this novel is from Leonie Agnew’s others – but Wow! What an amazing concept for a story! Imagination is everything!
(Imagination, Family, Conflict, War, Friendship, Survival, Determination, Belief)
Author – Elizabeth Laird
Illustrator – Lucy Eldridge (B & W chapter headers + double pages between Parts 1-5)
Age – 11+
Omar is 12 and he is proud of his town called Bosra in the country of Syria. Omar doesn’t enjoy school like his older sister Eman and brother Musa. But life is good and he dreams of the day of being a businessman like his cousin and uncle.
Musa has cerebral palsy and is incredibly smart. Omar has spent his life sticking up for his brother against taunts and trouble, but when Musa becomes involved with activists against the Syrian government (that their father works for), Omar is even more worried for him. And suddenly they have to flee. Ma, Baba (father), Eman, Musa, Omar, Fuad (5), and baby sister Nadia. After living out of Bosra on a family farm, they have to flee again. They have received word the government is after Baba, or is it Musa they want? Again they flee – this time, across the border with thousands of others to a refugee camp.
Although there are no guns in the camp, there is also no hope of returning home, nothing to do, severe cold, mud and slime in the winter, and queues, no privacy and camp gangs to contend with. But Omar is resourceful and strong and he makes the best of a terrible situation. Little does he know that wee Nadia is their way out, but only after they nearly lose her.
Welcome to Nowhere is a great way of learning about the Syrian crisis and what its people have faced and are still facing today. One painted slogan by a few teen boys is all it takes to light the flame that becomes the Syrian Civil War that we see on our news. Storytellers like Elizabeth Laird show the rest of the world truths that must be told.
(War, Syria, Refugee, Immigrant, Fear, Courage, Family)