*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Netgalley arc Keep Calm and Carry On, Children by Sharon K. Mayhew #Brainfluffbookreview #KeepCalmandCarryOnChildrenbookreview


It won’t be a surprise if I mention that it was the title that first attracted me to this offering – we see this WWII catchphrase all over the place, these days. But when I realised this was an adventure about two young evacuees, I immediately requested it.

BLURB: Eleven-year-old Joyce and her little sister hide in their bomb shelter during the German Blitz on London, during World War II. After nights of bombing, it’s decided that they’ll join the over 800,000 children who’ve already been evacuated during Operation Pied Piper. They board a train not knowing where they’re going or who will take them in.

I loved this one. It starts with Joyce and Gina in 1940 enduring a succession of terrifying air raids that severely damage their home and kill neighbours. Their parents reluctantly decide they have no choice but to send the sisters off to the country, taking part in the huge operation to rehouse vulnerable youngsters for the duration of the war. Told in Joyce’s viewpoint, the train journey is told in vivid detail as friendships are formed and one small boy gets left on the train when his sister gets off.

By the time I’d read to this stage, I couldn’t put the book down until I discovered where the girls ended up – would they be separated? This was Joyce’s personal nightmare – both girls were filthy, having had nights spent in underground shelters and no water for washing. As they wait anxiously to discover who will claim them, to look after the girls for the rest of the war, I felt my stomach tighten. I know only too well that it was a complete lottery – while many children were cherished and cared for, some ended up in households who regarded them as unpaid labour, or worse. So where Joyce and Gina end up?

This is a gripping read that covers all aspects of being an evacuee, with an extra adventurous brush with black marketeers after the style of an Enid Blyton escapade to add extra spice to this historically accurate story. I would like to think that this book is used in primary school classrooms during a WWII topic – there are all sorts of aspects of this story that merit discussion. Highly recommended for any child interested in WWII. The ebook arc copy of Keep Calm and Carry On, Children was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.

18 responses »

    • This one isn’t so gruelling, as it is specifically aimed at modern schoolchildren, though it doesn’t sugarcoat the struggle to keep going when half your house has been bombed, either.

  1. I’m so very pleased that you enjoyed it! Thank you for reviewing it! My hope is that people, no matter what age, read it and see that everyone has struggles but to move forward one must persevere. ❤️

  2. I think this is something that I would really enjoy. Evacuees really fascinate me – I can’t imagine what it feels like to send your children away not knowing who they would end up with! It terrifies me.
    Lynn 😀

    • Oh yes! What a horrible prospect all round… and I know that some communities were swamped with children so they weren’t made to feel very welcome. While this is reasonably gritty – it doesn’t go into the darker aspects of the whole business, fortunately.

  3. Every time I see a mention of those children, sent away from London to keep them safe, I can’t help thinking about the terrible choice their parents had to make: send them away to protect them, but having to separate families, with no certainty of being able to see each other again. It’s hear-wrenching, indeed…

    • Oh, it really is… Though as it is told from the children’s perspective, we don’t get to see the parents’ agony, but that’s what I always thought, too. So glad I was never confronted with that choice!

    • Oh, what a fab T-shirt! Always wonderful advice… And yes – this is a wonderful book that tells of a key moment in British social history so that both children and adults will be entertained.

  4. Do you think this would be an appropriate read for Blondie, or for Bo and I to read with Blondie? I’d love for her to better understand a bit of history. I’ve read the American Girl Molly books, so she kiiinda gets what it was like on the American homefront during WWII, but there’s so much more to the youth experience than that.

    • I think it would be an excellent read, particularly to sit down with her and discuss it. The book is very approachable and I love that the adults will understand the darker possibilities, but that the childen (quite rightly) won’t.

  5. Sounds like a really gripping story. Sadly, I try to avoid anything related to WW2: given my country’s tragic history, I feel like I’ve read enough as a teen in my school years.

    • In which case, you absolutely should leave it alone:). My mother lived through the war and refuses to read or watch anything to do with it, as she found the whole business traumatic. Quite right, too.

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