Linked to the 'Federation of Children's Book Groups' North Somerset branch, Just About Books, our teacher reading groups, meet regularly to read, discuss and recommend children's literature, usually while eating cake and biscuits! Constantly asked for recommendations for books to use in the classroom and at home, we decided in 2015 that there was a need for an award aimed directly at teachers to support them in the role they play in developing reading for pleasure, creating life long readers and selecting excellent books to use in their classrooms and libraries. Seven years later, we are still here, still doing our best!
Lesley Parr’s story of evacuees is rich in atmosphere and a sense of place, and uses its wartime setting to explore themes of community, understanding and self-forgiveness. Along with other children at their school, Jimmy and his little brother Ronnie have been sent hundreds of miles away from London to the safety of a small mining town in South Wales, and it couldn’t be further from what they know. Jimmy is determined they won’t stay long, and that the place won’t change him, even as it’s transforming his classmates: Florence Campbell for example, who is free to become someone else, far away from her abusive family. The village has its secrets though, and the discovery of a set of bones in a tree leads Jimmy to solve a decades old mystery and, in the process, to help those living with loss and guilt. The place and its people are carefully and skilfully evoked, with the adults, particularly Jimmy and Ronnie’s new ‘family’ of Aunty Gwen and Uncle Alun the miner, likely to be as fascinating to readers as the younger protagonists. The mystery will certainly keep readers gripped but it’s the characters and the place that will stay with them.
Evacuees are a rich source for children’s adventure stories, examples include Michelle Magorian’s classic Goodnight Mister Tom, and Jacqueline Wilson’s more recent Wave Me Goodbye.
- Andrea Reece (LoveReading4Schools Reviewer)
Choosing books for use in the classroom needs great care. A strong text can be used so successfully as a framework for opportunities for a great variety of written work, drama, poetry, artwork, discussion, research... you name it! This category winner needs to be beautifully written an all round fabulous book.