Terry Deary has become a legend in his attempt to bring history to young adults, in a way that is easy to read and intermingled with fiction. His HORRIBLE HISTORIES has gained world wide recognition and has been adapted for TV and stage. Access to the people involved at the time, their feelings, roles they played, lend themselves to a deeper understanding of the times. Terry deals with the characters in a well rounded manner, and brings a personal tone to the story.
In this most readable book, we are taken to the village of Bray in northern France. The time period is the last days of the First World War, where we meet Aimee, a school girl. The British have left her village and the Germans have entered it. Everyone is exhausted and life is very cheap. Being in the village is almost like being on the outskirts of the battlefield. Many observations of aeroplanes, tanks, troops and trucks can be made by just looking outside. This information is essential for the British, and it is here that Aimee discovers her Mother is part of a spy network, which cleverly pass on this information to those troops.
Being practical and desperate, Aimee’s Mother needs to enlist her help, and so the schoolgirl becomes involved with the spy network. Here we meet people who vary greatly. From the exhausted soldiers to the doctors who work under basic conditions; they are all suffering. A young boy who is gifted at using herbs has come to the German army to help alleviate their influenza outbreak. Although he is German, he and Aimee become friends. When he needs to escape but is ill himself, Aimee accompanies him to the border.
The beauty in this story is the way Dreary has been able to show the horror of war, and the lot of the common soldier. Most of the men just want to go home to their families, but expectations force them to fight. The sub plot deals with Aimee and her mother always on tenterhooks in case they are discovered passing on information. They have a job cleaning the school which is where the Germans have their headquarters. Through being vigilant, they are able to pick up snippets of information.
The final chapter is warming. It tells us how Marius, the German boy who Aimee saved comes back to visit the family in the village. He will become a doctor and their friendship will flourish. This book would be a fantastic aid in Australian History Curriculum
|Publisher||Bloomsbury Childrens Books|
|Distributor||Bloomsbury Childrens Books|