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Books set in WWII


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 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

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

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

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

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

Room for a Stranger

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The relationship betwen a WWII evacuee Roda, and Doreen the daughter of the receiving family.

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