Grim reality of children at war

ife on the Home Front during the Second World War can sometimes be painted in rosy hues. Blitzed, the latest novel by Robert Swindells (Doubleday pound;10.99) does not spare readers any horrors. In this adept time-slip adventure, it's all there: children buried under rubble, or orphaned and starving; direct hits on crowded bomb shelters; the smell of unwashed bodies and waste.

George, obsessed with the history of the Second World War, is thrilled when, at his suggestion, his class visits Eden Camp museum (a real venue in North Yorkshire). But his enthusiasm and knowledge are put to the test when, exploring the museum's Blitz hut, he finds himself back in bomb-ravaged London, where he is adopted by a band of orphaned children.

This is a well-honed narrative in which Swindells weaves together many comic and curious strands to make a richly textured whole.

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