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War stories

Set in time or war or dealing closely with wartime issues


The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Lily and her family and friends are told that they have just a few weeks to leave their village which is to be used as a training ground for the D-Day Landings.

A quiet and readable story about the changes wartime brings. Loyalty and friendship. Breaking a serious promise.

Growing-Up, Historical, War

Back Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Rusty is a 12-year-old English girl returning home after spending the war years with a family in the USA.

Honest efforts by a returning young evacuee to fit into now unfamiliar surroundings. Contrast between pre- and post-war expectations of conventional roles. Casting in a good light a more bohemian style of upbringing, less concerned with conventional taboos and more with children's freedom. Family tension and break-up.

Coping with, Family, Girls, Growing-Up, Historical, War

Blitzcat

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Lord Gort, a cat is trying to find her owner, an RAF pilot.

A pleasant read for the most part; the action is seen either through the eyes of the cat, always couched in such terms as a cat would be expected to understand, or through those of the person to whom she's presently attached. The story is marred by the section concerning Sergeant Smith, who keeps a collection of pin-up girls, and the married woman who makes love to him on a hilltop.

Animal, Historical, War

Blood Red Snow White

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Arthur Ransome is a young English journalist based in Russia during the Great War who is used by both sides to carry information and messages to and fro.

Well-crafted semi-biography of Arthur Ransome's life in Russia around the time of the Revolution. Accepted marital infidelity. Some description of the sexual excesses of Rasputin and others. Love for a country not one's own. Courage in crossing war-torn countries in difficult conditions.

Biographical, Historical, Romantic, War

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Young Bruno is upset when his family is uprooted from their comfortable Berlin townhouse and forced to live in the featureless Outwith at the insistence of his soldier father's chief The Fury.

A moving look at the horrors of Auschwitz through the eyes of an innocent young German boy, the son of the camp commandant. No explicit violence but the final moments are quite tragic. May be suitable for younger readers in company with an older reader who can explain what's happening if needed.

Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, Moral Issue, Thought-provoking, War

The Butterfly Lion

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bertie grows up in South Africa and befriends a lion cub which must go to a circus when he goes to school in England.

Growing-Up, Spooky, War

Carrie's War

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Carrie and Nick Willow are evacuated to Wales.

Classic, Friendship, Growing-Up, War

Cuckoo in the Nest

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

16-year-old Ralph Hollis is yearning for a career in the theatre, while his father is furious that he won't find real work.

A young man trying to do what he wants in life without going against his family. The support the family offers even with its spats and storms. The joy and companionship of working in a theatre.

Family, Growing-Up, Romantic, War

Dear Olly

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Intelligent and talented 18-year-old Matt travels to Africa to help war-injured children, leaving his widowed mother and younger sister Olly behind.

Positive and thought-provoking look at the effects of war on the children of Africa, and on the difference one determined young man can make.

Animal, Growing-Up, Thought-provoking, War

The Dolphin Crossing

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

John Aston, realising the plight of the British forces at Dunkirk, takes the family's small craft Dolphin and, helped by Pat Riley, braves the sky and land-based attacks to ferry troops from the beaches.

A short but thoughtful story, focusing on the effect war has on different characters and what courage is about. Those left behind in wartime. Spirit of those who took their small craft to ferry troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. Generosity of both boys supporting each other in different ways in spite of very different backgrounds.

War

Drummer Boy

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

Charley Bates, a young Rochford boy with no ties, is drawn by the glitter of the army to join up as a drummer boy during the Crimean War.

Historical, War

Fair Stood the Wind for France

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

John Franklin is forced to crash land in wartime Occupied France.

Historical, Romantic, War

Fireweed

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

15-year-old Bill is evacuated to Wales away from the grudging aunt with whom he lives.

A sturdy attempt to portray two mid-teenagers looking after themselves during the war; slightly dated style; no immodesty

Growing-Up, Historical, War

Goodnight, Mr Tom

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Willie Beech, a timid 9-year-old, is evacuated from Deptford to Sussex, and is billeted on Tom Oakley, a widower who has allowed himself to become bitter and misanthropic since his wife and child died of scarlet fever 40 years before.

Slightly awkward storyline, but heartwarming; religious-driven cruelty of Willie's mother, her illegitimate baby and eventual suicide; the kindness of the villagers and especially of Tom Oakley.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, War

Greenmantle

Style: Classic

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Richard Hannay, after a period as a soldier on the front line, is called in by Sir Walter Bullivant to discover what secret card the Germans hold with which to inflame the Islamic peoples of the Middle East.

Wartime danger and heroism. While the broad brushstroke attitude towards war and other peoples is typical of the period of the book's publication, there is a surprising degree of respect both for the German enemy and for the Turkish religion and mindset.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, War

Hero on a Bicycle

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Paolo & Constanza's mother Rosemary Crivelli agrees to take in some fugitive Allied servicemen risking reprisals by the local Gestapo.

Wartime bravery from a mother and her teenage children. Chaste romance between an older teenage girl and an Canadian serviceman. Betrayal by a villager followed by reconciliation (personal and sacramental). Positively-presented Catholic piety.

Adventure, Romantic, War

Hitler's Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

In 1940 two German-speaking teenagers who have escaped the Nazis and are now living in England are parachuted into Germany to retrieve a young girl who is believed to be an important bargaining piece in the war between the powers.

Mediumweight adventure story. Bravery, heroism and loyalty by youngsters in perilous situations. Very mild, brief sensuality between teenagers. Apparently successful dowsing of the children’s location by a German diviner. Strong respect for human life and dignity.

Adventure, Friendship, War

I Was There

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Hans, Heinz and Gunter are three German boys at the time of Hitler's rise to power.

Historical, War

The Jacaranda Tree

Style: Good

Attitude: Objectionable

Patterson, manager of a plantation in Burma, organises the evacuation of the small English community there as the Japanese advance.

Historical, War

Joan of Arc

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

20th-century Eloise is told the story of Joan of Arc by an angel after she is bitterly disappointed not to have been chosen to play Joan in the town's celebrations, as she was not born in Orleans.

Sympathetic retailing of the story of a warrior saint.

Biographical, Historical, War

Johnnie's Blitz

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Johnnie is staying with his grandparents in the East End as his father is at war and is on the run from the authorities after being accused of a theft he did not commit.

Historical, War

A Little Love Song

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Rose & Diana are left unchaperoned after their aunt is taken ill, but decide to hide the fact from their actor mother, off on a tour, as they feel old enough to look after themselves.

A sexual encounter between a young unmarried couple. Scorn for society's treatment of unmarried mothers.

Growing-Up, War

Little Soldier

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Kaninda is a 14-year-old East African whose country is at war with itself.

War

The Machine-Gunners

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in the mining town of Garmouth during WWII the story revolves around Chas McGill, who has the second best collection of war souvenirs in the town but desperately wants it to be the best.

Adventure, War

Mission Telemark

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Four youngsters are sent into wartime Norway to destroy a Nazi heavy water plant, preventing the Germans from developing nuclear weaponry.

Disappointing. An awkward mixture of kids' caper and wartime resistance story. Courage and heroism in extreme physical conditions. Highly credible Scandinavian setting. Less credible characterisations. Tacit acceptance of suicide.

Adventure, War

Mr Standfast

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

To trap a brilliant German agent, Richard Hannay has to pose as a pacifist, assisted by Mary Lamington, Blenkiron, Peter Pienaar and others.

Straightforward plot. Elements of endurance and loyalty. A subtle, if unredeemed, villain. Some demeaning references to native Africans. War as a job to be done.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, Romantic, War

Paper Faces

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

8-year-old Dot lives with her mother Gloria in a East End boarding house just after the end of the war.

War

Peter Raven: Under Fire

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The year is 1800 as Peter Raven sails as midshipman aboard the Torrone, only to be hurt in a sea battle off France; when he sails again to the Caribbean the ship is attacked by Pirates and he is set adrift to save himself.

An exciting story, well-populated. A few slightly gruesome scenes.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, Seafaring, War

Postcards from No Man's Land

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Jacob Todd has come to Holland to celebrate the Battle of Arnhem where his grandfather fought and died.

Growing-Up, War

Private Peaceful

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Like many other English soldiers in WWI, 'Tommo' Peaceful is too young to fight, however he lies about his age.

Historical, Thought-provoking, War

SilverFin

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

James Bond is a new boy at Eton and must learn the ropes quickly, while fending off the bullying tactics of George Hellebore and his cronies.

Boyhood adventure with some slightly frightening genetic experiments.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, War

The Silver Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The story centres round the Balicki family set against the bleak landscape of war-torn Warsaw and the wreck that is post war Germany.

Classic, Family, War

A Spoonful of Jam

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Elsie Hollis is terrified of the gang in the next street, and auditions for a part with the local repertory company simply to stay out of the way; she is astonished when she is actually given the part.

Growing-Up, War

Strange Meeting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

John Hilliard rejoins his battalion near the front in World War I.

Friendship, Historical, War

The Swallow and the Dark

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Sam is diagnosed with Spengler's Syndrome, a terminal illness, and must come to terms with his own mortality.

A story which tries sincerely to balance and contrast life and death for a modern youngster and his counterpart in the Great War, but which ultimately lacks depth. Inconclusive look at life & death; divorced family background

Coping with, Historical, Time-Travel, War

The Thirty-Nine Steps

Style: Classic

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Richard Hannay gives a man shelter for the night, only to find him dead in the morning.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, War

A Town Like Alice

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jean Paget a young Englishwoman who speaks Malay is caught in Malaysia when the Japanese invade.

Classic, Romantic, War

Tug of War

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Petersen family, fleeing wartime Latvia with the Jansons, are separated at Gdynia; 14-year-old Hugo is left behind when his glasses smash in the crowded railway station.

Historical, War

Victory

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Present-day Molly finds a fragment of the Victory's flag in the binding of an old book and starts to feel the echoes of Sam Robbins' life on board Nelson's ship at Trafalgar.

A lightweight pair of stories, each with its own poignancy, drawn together by the fragment of a flag from HMS Victory. Honest efforts of a family remarried after widowhood to get along. Brutality of life at sea in Nelson's Navy. Friendship and emnity on board ship. Cheerful and concerned family life. Very mild sexual references.

Family, Time-Travel, War

Voyage

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of the voyage of several hundred Jews fleeing prewar Europe across the Atlantic.

Historical, Romantic, War