________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 3 . . . . September 20, 2013


Still at War.

Jean Booker.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2013.
146 pp., pbk. & EBK, $6.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-1383-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-2458-4 (EBK).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

**** /4



The streets were deserted, but as she passed the clock tower she felt someone grab her arm. As she was pulled toward the small wooden door at the base of the tower, she started to scream. But a rough hand suddenly covered her mouth, and she was dragged into the tower.

"Don't be 'fraid Fraulein Ellen-it is me, Carl," the voice said. He let go of her, closed the door behind them and switched on the dim light.

Ellen angrily spun around to face him. "What do you think you're doing? I told you-leave me alone!"

"Here-," he held something out toward her. "It was in the pocket of the coat you gave me. I thought you should want it back."

Dumbfounded, Ellen stared at what he was holding out to her. It looked like a medal. Was it? Could it be her grandfather's medal? The one her dad had lost? Carl had said it was in the pocket of her dad's coat-the coat she'd given to him to help him escape from the Home Guard. No wonder her dad couldn't find it.

"Oh, thank you, thank you! You've saved my dad's bacon."

"Bacon? What is dad's bacon?"

She burst out laughing. "It's-"

Suddenly the door burst open and in came Mavis' dad. Ellen jumped and quickly stepped back from Carl.

World War II is over, more than a year has gone by, yet things aren't very different in England from what they had been during the war. Ellen's family still has very little money, her dad is looking for work, and her mom's job is uncertain. Some of the structures blown to bits during bombings have been rebuilt, but mostly the little community where Ellen's family lives has not changed. And now hatred of the Germans rules the lives of many, and it's being directed at the local German POW's who have yet to be returned home but who have been hired for jobs that could be done by local unemployed men. The POW's can be paid much less than the locals. This hatred scares Ellen more than anything. What would the people do if they found out that she had helped Carl, a German pilot, escape from her community. Carl was very near her age and had actually saved her life during the air raid when their toilet had been bombed. Would she and her parents be in danger, would the community accept the fact, and how would her own parents feel if they knew the truth? Then Ellen finds out that Carl is actually still in her town and wants to talk to her. If she is seen with him, she really will be in trouble. She just wants to go to school, have fun with her friends and live a normal life, yet life with her parents has become anything but normal. Ellen's mam seems to have gone a little crazy and is acting like those suffragettes Ellen has heard of, and her dad is trying desperately to discourage an uprising against the POWs and Geordie Cruikshank who insists on hiring them. And on top of all of that, her mam is going to have a new baby. Will anything ever be normal again? Ellen finally discovers that bravery and truth are needed to settle the turmoil in her life and community, and she finds out that her mom, though not like any other moms that Ellen knows, is very special in her own way.

      Jean Booker has written Still At War as a sequel to her Keeping Secrets. She allows readers to view wartime England through the eyes of young Ellen and then shows how families had to continue to live with so little when the expectations of post-war life were quite different. Through Ellen's experiences, that time in history becomes very real to all who read her stories. It is true that children need to learn about and understand history to find their own place in this world, and Jean Booker, through the pages of her excellent children's novels, helps children learn in a most interesting, absorbing manner.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr is a retired teacher of elementary and middle school in Alberta.

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