Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Review: The Sky is Falling

Title: The Sky is Falling (Guests of War #1)
Author: Kit Pearson
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Publication Date: February 8th, 1990
Genre: Junior Fiction, Historical Fiction

In the summer of 1940, ten-year-old Norah and her friends spend their days watching the planes fight above their village in Kent. The war has certainly brought excitement to Norah’s life, but all parents see is the danger. Once they decide to send Norah and her five-year-old brother Gavin to Canada until the war ends, Norah realizes that there is no way to persuade them otherwise. While the ship ride from Liverpool to Montreal is full of excitement, the idea of living with strangers in a foreign country terrifies Norah. After staying at a University in Toronto for weeks, a family is finally found for Norah and Gavin. The only problem is that they originally only wanted a boy. Mrs. Ogilvie and her grown daughter live in an enormous house in Toronto. While Mrs Ogilvie immediately fall in love with Gavin, she shares Norah’s stubbornness and the two clash almost instantly. While a girl from her village is also in Norah’s class at school, the teacher treats Norah with sarcasm and the students tease her and call her a coward for leaving England. When the war might be go on for longer than Norah first believed, she has to find a way to accept her new home.

I first read this book maybe twelve years ago and I loved the series. However, I recently read Kit Pearson’s newest book, The Whole Truth. I found it disappointing, and that made me doubt whether The Guests of War trilogy was as good as I remembered. The first book in the trilogy follows Norah as she and her brother leave England for Canada during the Second World War. I was probably ten or so the first time I read this book, but this time it was just as hard to put down. It’s one of the best historical fiction books I’ve read for children. I might be a bit biased towards this book because it takes place in Canada, but I thought Pearson realistically portrayed World War II from the eyes of an English child forced to leave her home. One thing I found rereading this book in my twenties is that it was much more of an emotional read than it was the first time. As Pearson points out in the afterword, for some children being guests of war may have been an adventure, but Pearson did an excellent of conveying what it was like for some children who didn’t want to leave (like Norah.) While Norah could be much too headstrong and stubborn at times, I think her actions were very realistic. Who wouldn’t act out when they’re forced to leave everything they’ve ever known and live somewhere completely different than what they’re used to? Plus, Norah is only ten-years-old. I will definitely be rereading the other books in the series, the last of which is told from Gavin’s point of view. Overall, this book is a must read for children interested in World War II.

5/5

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