I love children’s historical fiction and was delighted when I received a copy of Glen Blackwell’s new book. As a primary school teacher I have read many quality children’s books set during the second world war; Once, Goodnight Mister Tom, Letters from the Lighthouse, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, The Umbrella Mouse and Our Castle by the Sea are all superb and explore various aspects and experiences of World War 2. All of the aforementioned are must reads and I can now add The Blitz Bus to that list of wonderful wartime stories.
The Blitz Bus is the story of two children, Jack and Emmie, who inexplicably find themselves transported back to London, 1940, on their way home from school. At first they are convinced they have inadvertently stepped into a film set but then the bombs start falling, they attract the attention of the authorities, have to seek safety in the underground and it quickly becomes apparent that this is most definitely their new reality. Along with new friend Jan - a polish refugee - they must work to uncover the identity of a potential spy and try to find a way to get back home.
Glen Blackwell delivers a thrilling wartime adventure that explores the Blitz through the eyes of children and it makes for a very enjoyable and educational read. For a historical wartime read, the whole idea for the book is unique and original and I love the concept. At school, both Jack and Emmie are struggling to properly imagine what life would have been like during World War 2 so what better way to understand it than to experience it for themselves.
Finding themselves in 1940’s London the children are surrounded by a world that is both familiar and unfamiliar. London is being bombed, people seek shelter in air-raid shelters, food is rationed and every day is a battle to survive. The story-telling is peppered with historical facts and Blackwell’s well-researched and accurate descriptions immerse readers into wartime London, it is easy to imagine what it would have been like which is exactly what children need unless they plan on sneaking a ride on the Blitz Bus.
In their search to get back home, Emmie and Jack meet two young polish children, Jan and Stan, who have travelled to England via the Kindertransport system in the hope of finding safe refuge from the German army. Jan and Stan's personal stories add another welcome historical element to the narrative and as the friendship develops between the children from the past and the present, emotional conversations shed light on the experiences of wartime refugees and the struggles and challenges they faced at being in an unfamiliar country and far from home. I really enjoyed this aspect of the narrative as these are important stories that need to be heard.
The Blitz Bus is a very accessible read that I raced through in a very enjoyable morning. I would highly recommend to children in upper key stage two, it would be an excellent book to read when studying World War 2.
With huge thanks to Glen Blackwell and Zoetrope Books for my copy of this brilliant wartime read.
Recommended for 9+.