Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery

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Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A gritty, realistic love story set during the first world war. Easy to read, dyslexia friendly book, but just as good for more proficient readers as well.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781122938

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Tilly often wished things would change in the sleepy little village she called home, but she gets more change than she bargained for when war breaks out. First her sweetheart joins up, then Tilly signs on a nurse and finally her brother Georgie is called up, despite the fact that he is completely unfit for service. Georgie is different, big and strong but with the mind of a child - how could he possibly survive the horrors of war? So many promises are made, Tilly promises her sweetheart Harry she will wait - Harry assures her he won't be away long - sure it will probably be over by Christmas (famous last words). When Georgie is posted to Harry's unit, Tilly extracts a somewhat reluctant promise from him to look after her brother. More promises will be made - but promises are hard to keep in wartime. As Georgie and Harry face the harsh reality of life in the trenches, Tilly finds herself near the frontline as a nurse. Everything seems to have changed. Will even love remain the same - especially in the aftermath of a broken promise?

There is a famous quote, attributed to a number of famous men I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. This captures some of the difficulties in writing a short story. To realistically portray all the horror of war, while still showing the enemy as human is difficult in a full length novel. Throw in a love story, the utter absurdness of an idiotic conscription board allowing a severely learning-disabled young man to be placed on the front lines and then try to condense that into 96 pages in a large double spaced font and you are nearly asking the impossible. But Linda Newbery has pulled it off perfectly. In addition she has beautifully conveyed the innocence of Georgie, and his love for a wee pony which is transferred to the horses he comes across at the front - but war is hell for horses too. This book is brutally realistic, painful to read at times, but beautifully written.

Barrington Stoke have listed this book as a reading age of 8 and an interest age of teen. I would believe both assessments are accurate. My youngest son, age 8 often enjoys Barrington Stoke Books for much older readers, but some of these are suitable for younger readers as well and some are not. There is no sex, and the violence is not graphically portrayed, but this book brings the absolute horror of war to life so poignantly that I felt this would be too much for such a young child. I would recommend this for ages 12 - adult. For an adult with average reading ability this will be a short read, but still quite good. For an adult or teen with a reading disability, books like this are priceless. They allow the more mature reader to enjoy a story suited to their own ages and interests without struggling to read.

Barrington Stoke have set the standard for dyslexia friendly reading material, with high-interest low-reading age books printed in a dyslexia-friendly format. This is printed in Barringtons Stoke's own specially designed dyslexia-friendly font. The print is double spaced, with frequent chapter breaks and printed on an off-white, non-glare paper. While all these features are designed to help children suffering from reading disability, I feel that they make reading easier for all children. My eight year old son has commented that he enjoys these books because they are so easy to read, and this was especially true as he was developing his reading skills. I very frequently recommend Barrington Stoke books. Of course I recommend them highly for any child with reading disabilities, but I recommend them just as highly for children of average, or even above average reading ability who enjoy more complex stories. In addition to recommending this book to improve literacy, or just to read for pleasure, I feel this particular book would be an excellent addition to a history curriculum, and could provoke some very interesting discussion. I will be saving this until my son is a few years older, but it certainly holds promise. I would especially commend the author for showing some of the suffering on both sides, and the terrible waste of the so called Great War. This is a book that encourages understanding, rather than hate, something I think we need more of.

You might also like to look at:

Heroes (Most Wanted) by Anne Perry

Set in Stone by Linda Newbery

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Buy Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery at Amazon.com.


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