Author: Ally Sherrick
Publication: Chicken House, paperback, 2018
Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction
Setting: World War II England
Plot: As the Germans bomb England, Charlie is fighting back as an RAF pilot, finding a billet near the base for his only remaining family, younger brother George. Mistreated by brutal Bill Jarvis, George tries to run away with his only companion, a neglected dog he names Spud. George doesn’t get far but manages to rescue and befriend a German refugee his age, Kitty, whose grandfather has taught her archeology and various ancient lore. They take him in when he has nowhere to go, and George has to overcome his unthinking prejudices against the intelligent Jewish girl, before these two plucky orphans can join forces to try to prevent a German invasion by seeking a mysterious Anglo-Saxon crown that Hitler believes will guarantee his victory. This is a well-constructed thriller with appealing protagonists and supernatural elements that will appeal to middle schoolers.
Audience: Fans of suspense or historical fiction, such as The Book Thief, War Horse, Number the Stars, The Telemark Mission
My Impressions: I came across this book at Topping & Company Booksellers in Ely, England on a rainy day last May, and it reminded me of the Geoffrey Trease books that first my mother and then I enjoyed growing up, featuring brave adolescents and derring-do, as well as the power of friendship. Both Kitty and George have experienced the devastating loss of their parents and neither is safe now - George is being beaten and half-starved by the abusive Jarvis and Kitty’s scholarly grandfather is threatened with detention because he is German. Neither is perfect: Kitty is a little bit of an academic show off (my kind of girl!) and although I sympathized with his situation I didn’t like George much at first as he seemed ungrateful to Kitty and her grandfather who risked a lot in hiding him.
Together, however, Kitty and George rise to the challenge of the dragon legend, using her knowledge and George’s muscle. Rather than cowering inside (which would have been my preferred option, avoiding Bill Jarvis and a frightening bird I forgot to mention), the German girl and Cockney boy show their patriotism through their determination to find the buried crown that Hitler wants and withstanding vicious Nazis determined to bring it to him.
|Notice Ely Cathedral through the second floor window|
Off the Blog: This was one of my first reads of 2019. I had to finish it quickly while attempting a Chicken Tagine recipe for a family birthday party.
(images not mine, found online)