Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"The visitors were still in the hall, crowds of them, children and grown-ups, each clutching a gas-mask in the pale cream-coloured box that looked as if it must contain sandwiches, a paper container full of tins, and some sort of bag or parcel."
The summer holidays have begun and the four Farrar children - Gerda, David, Jimmy and Sally - are looking forward to spending their break with Aunty Myra in rural Sussex. As each child has been part of different boarding schools, the family ties immediately come to the fore with a certain amount of good humoured jostling. The shadow of war is soon cast, however, and evacuees from London come to stay in a nearby empty farmhouse.
The Farrar children become embroiled in preparations for the arrival of the evacuees, helping to ensure all is ready and resolving that they will treat the evacuees as if guests at a hotel. There is an impressively resourceful quality to the children, each of whom contributes and comes together as part of a community to lend assistance and support.
The contrast between the idyll of country life with its rural traditions and charm and the evacuees from urban London who are outside of all that is familiar to them and bring with them a sense of the impending arrival of war and conflict provides a powerful dynamic. Although certainly aged, the writing is suffused with warmth, care and an urgency around coming together. It makes for a fascinating social history around Operation Pied Piper and the way World War Two affected children.