Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Review: The War and Freddy by Dennis Hamley
Publisher: Catnip Publishing
Released: September 1st, 2007
September 1939 - Freddy is three, and the Second World War begins. All he knows is that his father has gone away and may not be back for some time...
The War and Freddy is a brilliant book for younger readers and is comparable to Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie. While it's not as harrowing as Morris Gleitzman's Once or as sad as John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, it's still an educational look at the Second World War and what it meant for families and children living through the endless nightmare. Its simplicity will suit children just starting to learn about the war, and will leave them with stories and facts that should never be brushed aside.
Freddy's dad goes to war when Freddy is only 3 years old, leaving him with the knowledge that he'll be a big boy when they're reunited. This just leaves Freddy and his mum who, on top of worrying about her husband, also has a tiny son to raise during a time of war. Her parents help out until Freddy is old enough for school, but by then things are worse. Freddy's friend's fathers are being killed on the front line, rationing is in full swing and bombs can be heard dropping throughout the night. Everyone is scared, but this is the life they have to live until 1945 when Churchill finally announces its end.
The War and Freddy is a short book, but it manages to pack a lot into its 113 pages. Even I learnt a few new things, like slang words used to refer to German soldiers. Freddy's young age and innocence means he sees things adults don't notice, including the kindness of an Italian Prisoner of War and the pure elation at finally being able to go to the seaside. To him it's not just the sea, it's the sign of a safe world - one without bombs and soldiers and Spitfires. To him it means family and love, which he cherishes more because of what he lives through. This should be a recommended book for anyone interested in seeing WWII from a different perspective, and I'm really glad I took the time to read it.