Tarzan and the Blackshirts by Andy Croft and Alan Marks
|Tarzan and the Blackshirts by Andy Croft and Alan Marks|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A timely, easily-conveyed moral about how making life decisions based on race can only cause harm.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 90||Date: October 2016|
|Publisher: Five Leaves Publications|
|External links: Author's website|
1930s London, and the streets are rife with racial divides, to the extent that people on one side of the road, generally of one ethnic origin, hate the residents from some other background living on the other. Our narrator Sam has no reason to hate anyone, apart from those in the other gangs, like Alf. But when they latch on to each other as best friends, despite Sam being Jewish and Alf having Irish blood, it seems nothing can stop them. But in times like that – and, of course, in times like 2017 – that doesn't necessarily mean friendships can't be broken…
This is a compelling little slip of a book, ideal for the young – those who have a couple of years' experience in making their own choice of book for solo pleasure. Purists will quibble that in hitting so well on a natural, vocal rhythm to convey Sam's narration Andy Croft has gone against the rules of grammar at times, but for me the snappy sentences and half-sentences worked very well. The pages turn very easily – and of course the decent black and white ink illustrations help in that – but the book still manages to hold its main, forceful flood of pace back, until the real-life historical event known as The Battle of Cable Street comes into the story.
That event, when popular loathing turned back a huge march by Mosley's Blackshirts through the East End, is the foreground of the book, and proves it was better served by its original title, They Shall Not Pass – a slogan of the day. I would hazard a guess that the foreword and the final chapter have been tweaked since first publication in the light of more modern bodies and figures, but of course the lesson to be had here is that this could have happened across any racial divide, in any town and in any year. The book is so slight partly because it doesn't talk down to the young – heck, it drops in things like the news being shown at the cinema that might be quite alien to some of the target audience – and is of course all the better for it. A very salutary lesson.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
For even more impressive 'issue books' for this audience, we can suggest the series including Life According to Dani by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson.
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