The Silver Hand by Terry Deary
|The Silver Hand by Terry Deary|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: First World War adventure set in France and featuring a young French girl, a young German boy and a traitor with a silver hand. Historically accurate and a pleasure to read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: May 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Aimee like languages. She's particularly keen on Latin and enjoys a sparring session or two with her teacher. Aimee would like nothing better than to have her head stuck in a book all day every day. But that's not possible when it's 1918 and you live in the town of Bray - captured and recaptured by the Germans and the British during WWI. The Germans are advancing and Aimee's mother decides it's finally time to tell her daughter that she is part of a secret spy ring, helping the British. Aimee is desperate to help. And help she does, soon uncovering a traitor in the British camp.
But then the Germans come and Marius arrives. Marius is trying to help the German soldiers who are dropping like flies from a flu epidemic by making willow bark tea to relieve the fever. And when the Germans withdraw, Marius is left behind. Initially suspicious, Aimee has come to form a friendship with Marius and is determined to help him get home. So the two of them set out to get him across the lines, pursued by the traitor. Will they make it?
The Silver Hand is full of accurate historical detail, of course. Bray-sur-Somme is a real town. It really was occupied by the Germans in 1914 and bombing by the British really did force them to leave. It really was attacked again by the Germans in 1918 and, because their soldiers were weakened by a flu epidemic, the Canadians were able to send them packing. For everything the town went through, it was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government in 1920. Manfred von Richthoven, the flying ace, gets a cameo in the story as does Adolf Hitler. And there are all sorts of other interesting details - willow bark really is a precursor of aspirin. And this is just a flavour of all the interesting stuff in the book. I'll stop now so that I don't give it all away.
But, as you'd expect from Terry Deary, the book isn't didactic at all. It's a pacy, exciting adventure with two enjoyably indefatigable central characters. Aimee is clever and forthright and determined. She's a bit quick to judgement but will, in the end, admit she was wrong and change her mind. She is initially hostile towards Marius - how can a German be decent? - but comes to see that he is a good person who needs her help. And once Aimee has decided this - well, there's no stopping her. And Marius, who was only anywhere near the front line because there was no food at home, is a gentle soul whose main interest is in helping others. You can't help but root for them both.
World War I has been written about for children a lot. But somehow it stays as interesting as ever. In The Silver Hand, Terry Deary has illuminated the last year of the war for readers through a pacy adventure packed with accurate historical detail. And it's a pleasure to read.
By the way, this is Terry Deary's 150th fiction book and his 300th book overall. I think we can all agree that is quite some going!
War Game by Michael Foreman is a wonderful book about WW1I that straddles the gap between fiction and non-fiction and the gap between a text book and reading for pleasure. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo tells the story of two brothers during the war and is profoundly moving.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Silver Hand by Terry Deary at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Silver Hand by Terry Deary at Amazon.com.
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