Wave by Paul Dowswell

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Wave by Paul Dowswell

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Tony Taylor
Reviewed by Tony Taylor
Summary: 100 Years. 30 Minutes. 2 Brothers. 1 Photo. A story of the battle of the Somme told with vivid realism and heart-wrenching, realistic characters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 86 Date: June 2016
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781125625

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Wave, set in WW1, tells the story of the battle of the Somme. Although the story spans 100 years, 1st July 1916 and 1st July 2016, the majority of the action takes place during a 30 minute period between 7 am and 7.30 am on 1st July 1916. It follows two brothers, Charlie and Eddie, as they prepare for the moment when they are to go over the top, as the first wave, into No Man’s Land. The story is a poignant, reflective and brutally honest account of the events which lead to the biggest casualty rate in one day in the history of the British Army.

By chance, I received this book on 1st July 2016 after spending the day teaching my Year 6 class about the battle of the Somme. I read Wave in one sitting, only 86 pages, but every word is carefully considered to tell this story with depth and Paul Dowswell gives this historical event the respect that it deserves. It is important that the next generation fully understand the sacrifice which was given by young men, many who lied about their age to join up and fight for their country. Having watched the Ghost Soldiers artwork by Jeremy Deller on the news, where men dressed as WW1 soldiers silently walked through towns and cities, I could vividly picture Charlie and Eddie as two men amongst the crowd. As a primary school teacher, I firmly believe that fictional stories based on real-life events are an incredibly emotive and effective way to understand significant moments in time. Having taught my class about the details of the Somme it was pleasing to read that these facts were all clearly portrayed within this short story.

The story is packed full of factual information told through conversations between characters or through their thoughts, feelings and recollections. Carefully interwoven into the story was information on: the conditions in the trenches; details of how whole battalions of men were wiped out; a heart-wrenching depiction of why 1/3 of the 1.7million shells that the British Army fired were duds and reports of moments when the German Army ceased their firing to allow the British to save their wounded men from No Man’s Land.

Wave, brilliantly produced by Barrington Stoke, is a Dyslexia Friendly book which is ideal for reluctant readers. The paper is thicker; this stops text from the other side of the page being seen. It uses a yellow/cream paper colour which has been proven effective for people with dyslexia; many children use coloured overlays when reading as it stops the letters dancing around, therefore the paper colour will be of great benefit. Also, the appropriate font choice is very clear with plenty of space between words and between the lines. Along with the shorter book-length, this is a perfect book choice for any reluctant reader – apart from a removable sticker on the back, no one would know that you were reading a Dyslexia Friendly book.

The book is aimed at 12+. The actual content could be appropriate for 10+, so for Year 5 onwards, however, there are a handful of times when stronger language is used. Personally, this would stop me recommending the book to children under 12. On one hand, this is a real shame because I know my class would thoroughly appreciate and learn from the setting and characters and it would bring this significant event to life for them. However, when the stronger language is used, it does give the story and characters authenticity so other language choices might not have had the powerful impact necessary. Having said all that, I will read this book as a class read, starting tomorrow, but I will miss out five or six words.

For further reading, I would suggest stories by Michael Morpurgo as they too provide a great understanding of historical events which are told through a fictional narrative. Staying with WW1, I would strongly recommend Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, although it may seem that this is for slightly younger readers, it still provides a brutally honest portrayal of these events that can be enjoyed and appreciated by any age. It's not dyslexia-friendly, but we enjoyed Wolf Children by Paul Dowswell.

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Buy Wave by Paul Dowswell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wave by Paul Dowswell at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Wave by Paul Dowswell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wave by Paul Dowswell at Amazon.com.


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