AUTHOR = SONYA HARTNETT
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 – 12
This is an unusual novel. The cover looks decidedly old fashioned, no doubt because the tale itself is set in a time long ago. Three children have been evacuated from London during the war so it is no wonder that 3 children in old fashioned clothes grace the cover of the book. However, whilst the cover may look a little like an Enid Blyton story of old, it is certainly far more than this.
For these 3 children are not facing smugglers and mysteries with their pet dog; instead they are battling with the harsher realities of war: being separated from parents, losing loved ones in battle, fearing that London itself may be lost! And how are children meant to understand this crazy, frightening world? How are they meant to fit in? Young Jem wants to be seen as a young man not a child, he yearns for a noble role… but will he just put his own life in danger?
And what about clumsy, thoughtless Cecily and the self-sufficient May? Will they become friends or will their different backgrounds and differing sensibilities, stand in their way? Whilst the 3 children struggle to come to terms with their war-affected lives, Uncle Peregrine tells them a tale about power and betrayal, a tale which seems to reach across time to their own lives.
This is a beautifully written novel with intriguing and complex characters and a sense of mystery underlying the main action. A novel which is slow moving and occasionally rather didactic but nonethless quite enchanting for those willing to look behind the old fashioned cover.
No wonder this book was shortlisted for the 2012 CBCA Book of the Year (Younger Readers).
Recommended (dma) ***