Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 5
Genre: historical fiction
What did you like about the book? The novel introduces us to Barney, a very likable young boy, fleeing London with his mother after his street and home were bombed during World War II. When a German plane attacks their train, the train stops inside a tunnel to escape the danger. As they sit in the dark, the other passenger in Barney’s compartment tells him a story. The passenger is a former soldier and current air raid warden from Barney’s neighborhood. The story brings readers back to World War I where a brave and highly-decorated private has a chance encounter with a young Adolf Hitler. This story-within-a-story moves along quickly and is almost impossible to put down, concluding with an enticing bit of mystery. A fascinating author’s note lets readers learn about real-life war hero Private Henry Tandy, and the questions which formed the basis for this novel. The action and the relatively short length (125 pages) make this a great choice for reluctant readers. The moral dilemma of the novel should spark some excellent classroom or family discussion. Even older readers should be drawn in and fascinated.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read Alikes? Recommend to readers who enjoy stories of history and wartime, including Michael Morpurgo’s other novels. Also recommend Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin.
Who should buy this book? Elementary schools, middle schools and public libraries should consider purchasing this book.
Where would you shelve it? Middle-grade fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: March 10, 2017