Journeys into a world at war

26th January 2001 at 00:00
The primary history curriculum has created a mini-industry in fiction set during the first and second world wars.

WWII Flashbacks from A amp; C Black (pound;8.99 each) is an impressive fiction series which recounts the horrors and trials of the Second World War through the eyes of children in four different countries. Blitz Boys by Linda Newbery is concerned with the fate of two boys who meet in the rubble of London's bombed-out houses; Final Victory by Herbie Brennan tells of events through the eyes of Jurgen Wolf, a 12-year-old member of the Hitler Youth, one of many children who were sent on to the streets of Berlin during the final weeks of the Nazi era to protect Fuehrer and Fatherland against advancing Russian troops; in The Right Moment by David Belbin, a boy sent from occupied Paris to the countryside in the less devastated south of France must choose between collaboration and esistance; Blood and Ice by Neil Tonge is the story of Vanya Shkelov, whose mission is to escape from besieged Leningrad, where three-quarters of a million people die from cold and hunger, carrying a sacred cross towards the German lines.

These fine stories are revelatory, moving and extremely informative, written with expressive economy. Bibliographies and authors' notes provide historical context.

A must-have for any KS2 classroom is Great-Gran's Diary by Joan Peake (Pont pound;4.95). This is another pleasing story for children who find history inspiring and a useful class reader to tie in with curriculum projects.

Hannah finds her great-gran's diary, written during the First World War, at the bottom of a sewing box. When she decides to use it for a school project, her research brings her into conflict with friends and into a strange form of contact with the past.

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