Whistling in the Dark

Shirley Hughes. Candlewick, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9072-4
The “heart-sinking” wail of air-raid sirens, sparse food rations, and the agonizing separation from loved ones permeate this poignant story set in suburban Liverpool during the winter of 1940–1941, when the city was bombarded by Hitler’s Luftwaffe. In a preface, Hughes (Hero on a Bicycle) notes that she lived in the same area at the time as a teenager, so “it was very easy for me to imagine” the life of her heroine, 13-year-old Joan Armitage. She makes it easy for readers to do the same. An insightful observer, Joan empathizes with her lonely older sister, whose beau is serving in the Merchant Navy, and her stoic mother, who is still mourning her husband’s death at sea years earlier. In a subplot, Joan befriends Ania, a Polish refugee who is scorned by many, and protects the girl’s uncle, who deserts the army to find Ania. Amid the turmoil, Joan finds solace in creating art and her steadfast bond with Ania. Avoiding sensationalism, sentimentality, or predictability, Hughes shapes a real and raw novel helmed by a wise and gutsy protagonist. Ages 10–up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/25/2017
Release date: 11/14/2017
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-5366-8560-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5366-8562-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5366-8561-9
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5436-6446-1
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