The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister

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The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: High-spirited story of the creation of one of the first "people's cars" - the CV2. Based on truth but with a sprinkle of magic, this is a fun story for every reader. We loved it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Cape
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0857551299

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It's France at the 1938 Paris Motor Show. A wonderful new car has been unveiled: the Deux Chevaux or 2CV for short. It looks a bit odd and is nicknamed Tin Snail but this is a car for the people: functional, reliable, affordable. And its inventor is just 13 years old! But WWII is about to break out and France is about to be occupied by the Germans. The Tin Snail must face a perilous journey - to carry a farmer and his wife, a flagon of wine and a tray of eggs, across a bumpy field in a sleepy French village without spilling a drop or cracking a shell - and then go into hiding...

... the Nazis must never find the prototypes or the designs - despite the best efforts of a German officer intent on discovery.

What follows is a madcap tale of adventure and magic.

Truly, I loved this delightful novel. It's intended for middle-grade readers but people of all ages will love it. It's based on a true story but McAllister has changed a great deal, creating a book that will entertain and enthuse almost every reader I can think of. My press blurb says that it has a dash of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, a pinch of HUGO, and a sprinkling of DAD'S ARMY and I would say that's about right. It might be set in France but it feels rather British: full of pluck and bravado plus a little bit of slapstick.

The head of Citroen, Pierre-Jules Boulanger, really did order the destruction of all the 2CV prototypes when WWII broke out. And two designers really did hide three of them in a sleepy French village. Boulanger also did move the oil marks on dipsticks so that the cars he was forced to make for the occupying Germans broke down frequently. What a guy! And his is a true story that should be told to a wider audience. Even so, I defy you not to be entranced by McAllister's take on it. Imagine if the 2CV really had been invented by a 13-year-old boy!

Recommended. We also have a review of The Demon Undertaker by Cameron McAllister.

You might also enjoy Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale, a super old-fashioned adventure story set in 1929, featuring murder, mayhem, scam adverts and medical malpractice. You might also enjoy The Catchers by Stuart Kent.

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Buy The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister at


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