Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blitzed by Robert Swindells


It is 2002 and Georgie Wetherall loves two things - knowing all about England in World War II and creeping. Creeping?  That is when you “streak across a row of back gardens, over fences, through hedges, across veg patches...without getting caught or recognized.” (pg13)  And he especially likes leaving Miss Coverley’s garden is shambles.  Georgie knows she doesn’t like him - she's always watching him.  So when he has to repair her fence post as punishment for his last creeping adventure, Georgie discoveres she watches him - it seems he reminds her of someone, but who?

All this is forgotten, however, when Georgie’s class goes on a trip to Eden Camp, a former POW camp turned into a WW 2 museum of 29 huts each dedicated to one aspect of the war.  Hut 5 is a realistic replica of a bombed street in London during the Blitz.  The sounds and smells add to the realistic atmosphere - but wait, it is perhaps a little too realistic.  In fact, Georgie suddenly finds himself transported back to wartime London.

Finding himself faced with the real deal, cold, hungry, lost and scared, Georgie wanders around until he finds a friendly searchlight crew who give him something to eat.  After living through a night of bombing in a public shelter, Georgie notices four kids emerging from a bombed out pub.  He and the kids starting talking and they tell him he can stay with them as long as Ma approves.  Ma turns out to be a 14 year old girl who watches over orphaned kids in the pub’s basement.

Ma has a job in a second hand shop owned by what she believes to be is a Jewish refugee  from Germany called Rags.  But when Georgie discovers a radio transmitter locked in one of the shops upstairs rooms, they begin to suspect that maybe Rags isn’t who they think he is.  And they decide to find out exactly what he is up to with that radio transmitter.  Trouble is, Rags begins to suspect Ma of snooping in his stuff and decides to find out what she is up to. So Georgie, with Ma and the other orphans, is on a wartime adventure he never dreamed possible.  

I liked this coming of age time travel story.  It is told in the first person, and the author maintains the voice of a 12 year old boy throughout giving it an authentic quality -  quick, witty, full of colloquialisms from 2002 that are questioned by the folks from 1940.   I also found Georgie's reaction to his predicament refreshing. In most time traveling stories, kids end up in a different time and place and seem to assimilate so easily.  But for Georgie, it isn’t just a jolly adventure.  He worries throughout about not getting home, not seeing his parents again.  As wartime London loses it romanticized aura and becomes reality, it causes Georgie to experience real reactions like throwing up more than once and even to peeing himself at one point.  

But it is also a story of survival, complete with a cast of orphan characters right out of Dicken’s London, who become Georgie’s family away from family, helping him adjust and carry on.  And most importantly, helping him see the reality of war. 

Blitzed is a fast but wonderful book.  The chapters are only a few pages long, but the events are exciting, making it an ideal book for a reluctant reader and certainly one that would appeal to boys as well as girls.  


This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was purchased for my personal library/

You can hear Robert Swindells speaking about Blitzed here.  It is on YouTube but the embed function is disengaged.

And there really is an Eden Camp in Yorkshire, so if you happen to be in England and would have an interest in visiting (you might want to go to Yorkshire anyway, it is a wonderful place to see.)  Information about visiting can be found here

But no worry, if you are only going to be in London, try visiting one of my favorites for a taste of what living in London during the Blitz was like: Winston Churchill’s Britain at War Experience.  You can find information here  (located on Tooley Street, same street the second hand store is on in Blitzed.)

15 comments:

  1. Great review Alex.

    I always thought that the smell of places is important to describe, I often wonder about that and why museums don't include it.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

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    1. Thanks, Zohar, I always think smell is important, too. Most of my own memories are based on the smells I remember from growing up.

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  2. You've mention two places I really must visit - they have been on my list for a while, so maybe this year! Blitzed sounds like a wonderful read.

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    1. I can't wait to visit Eden Camp. We found the Winston Churchill museum by accident when we decided not to go on the London Dungeon and walked down the street and voila! there it was. Funky the way the toy museum on Googe Street is funky. I enjoyed Blitzed very much.

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  3. I love time travel books for younger readers that help them experience the history in their own era. Great review!

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    1. Yes, that is true and especially when they are starting to learn about history since time travel usually has to be historically accurate - a fun addition to school.

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  4. Sounds like a really good read. I love the premise of this story.

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    1. It is definitely a great read, very interesting.

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  5. I enjoyed every page on your blog. Your articles are just amazing.
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  6. Blitzed sounds like a great book. I like that time travel isn't easy for the main character and that he has a hard time fitting in. Sometimes it works out too easily for characters. This sounds more believable. Excellent review- I would love to read this one!

    ~Jess

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  7. Sounds like one for me--thanks!

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  8. Hello i want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include almost all significant info. I would like to see more posts like this .

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  9. I had thought that I was the only person in the world to be fascinated by World War Two and children's literature. I'm so thankful to have come across your fabulous blog and realise I am not alone! I agree totally with Alex. Blitzed is a great read.

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  10. this book is good but it can be boring in stages

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