Recent review on this reader website
My little review (also on Amazon and Goodreads) *****
I enjoyed that the word ‘umpteen’ appeared in the first chapter, reminding me of how older relatives used to talk when I was a child in the 70s and 80s. I knew then that the prose was going to be lovely and fitting. Billy, aged five is excited about his cousin Kenneth staying. He turns out to be a real bully – his parents believe anything he says. I noticed his character so why didn’t they, even when Kenneth’s eyelashes were compared to a camel Billy’s dad commented ‘Displays calm, the camel, but they can turn nasty’ (quote from the book). This was a great piece of foreshadowing. Billy’s only saviour is his neighbour who has a fancy Russian knife (for display purposes, but looking at it made Billy feel brave). Not only is Billy’s life intruded by his cousin, but World War II is about to start. The reader learns from Billy’s observations of his parents how scary this is going to be. Billy is evacuated early on, his journey to the country is so enthralling, children wondering where their next meal is coming from – and some sharing out food. The heartbreaking bit when Billy is the last to be chosen. Gas masks, uncles returning from Dunkirk, it’s all in there. The most heartwarming bit for me was Billy’s stay with Mrs Youlden, her two younger children and another evacuee Alan. Billy has never experienced poverty before or been cold and dirty but here, he is loved and makes a true friend with Alan. Reading this book was like going back in time to childhood.
I really enjoyed this book