Saturday, 22 June 2013
Book Review: Dan Smith - My Friend the Enemy + Trailer and Book Reading - Chicken House
I was really looking forward to reading this book once I knew that it was coming through the post. It's always a treat when I get books from Chicken House as I seem to love every book that I receive. In my opinion this publishing company have a great skill of picking a range of fantastic and diverse books to cater for every imaginative mind and this book is no different.
It's a great skill when an author can write a story that provokes many thoughts from the reader - this book does it in spades. The book is set in the summer of 1941. The main character is called Peter. One day, when out playing in the woods, a German plane is shot out of the sky and comes crashing down very close to Peter. He rushes to the crash site hoping to finding something to keep but what he finds is something very different . . . . This is the start of a beautiful story that explores the friendship and the moral dilemma of helping the enemy and doing what feels right. It's told with great skill through the eyes of children within a hostile environment.
This is a very captivating read. Whilst it is really sad in parts it is also told with an upbeat tempo. It portrays the times and spirit of that period particularly well. The attitudes and the hardships are very well depicted. They show everyone pulling together in times of need and keeping morale high. The life of making do, the lack of food and those everyday things that we now take for granted just make you think and begin to recognise what life was like at that time
The characters in the book are brilliant; I would even go on to say that they are special. It is as if the author has handpicked the key memories of children who lived through World War 2 and then captured these in his own vision.
This is a sparkling book of friendship and adventure that will capture your heart strings and certainly take you down a turbulent path of mixed emotions. One of my favourite authors is Robert Westall who often took me down the fantastic path of WW2 gritty stories. Dan's first foray into children's literature brought back these golden times and I would really like to thank him for that. Perhaps he also enjoyed these qualities and aspects himself as a child - I believe that he also lives in the North East and might well be already acquainted with the same Robert Westall books as myself.
I would really like to see many people picking up this book and not just children. It's a book to get lost in a world which was someones reality back in the day. It may stir the emotions of people who perhaps lived through those times and, for those who are just far too young, it may help them to understand that particularly dark and bleak time. In my strong opinion, it might just make us all better people. The book is out on the 4th July so get it on your summer reading list.