Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie

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Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: An exciting time-slip story of the Blitz for newly confident readers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 978-0746097533

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The summer holidays is a time for relaxing, playing in the sun, and getting bored – precisely what Joe and Scarlett are doing when we encounter them at the beginning of this thrilling book. It is hardly surprising then, that when the two children see a ghostly train racing towards them in the woods, they take a risk and step inside. The train itself is strange, but when they find clothes laid out in the single compartment with their own names marked on them, Joe starts to get really worried. His sister Scarlett, however, is more curious – or more reckless – and she immediately begins to try on the blue dress which has been left for her. And then Joe's phone starts to count down from an hour . . .

Joe and Scarlett and their dog Pippy are sent back in the Time Train to the Blitz. Their task: to rescue a young boy, Alfie Suggs. A newspaper article tells them that Alfie left the safety of the underground shelter during an air raid to fetch his grandmother, who was deaf and could not hear the sirens. Alfie's grandmother survived, but her heroic grandson was killed.

This is quite a short novel (fewer than a hundred and fifty pages) and the type is satisfyingly large, so that the reader is able to move quickly from page to page while still feeling he or she is reading a 'real' book. This is an important feature for the newly confident reader who would struggle not to lose interest in a book which seemed to go on and on, with no end in sight. The chapters are not too long, the cover is attractive and colourful, giving plenty of information about the era, and the page numbers are all framed by a design of two searchlights – a nice touch.

The story soon moves from a sense of spine-tingling excitement when the children first see the mysterious train, to edge-of-your-seat terror as the train speeds along, faster and faster. And then, once they disembark, it races away, leaving them in the gloom of an underground station as planes screech overhead and sirens wail. And from that moment on the story moves at breakneck pace: they meet and rescue Alfie, only to find themselves in even worse danger from unexploded bombs and even a crazed dog called Big Rex. Crisis piles on crisis right up till the final few pages, encouraging the young reader to turn the pages and find out what happens next.

Sophie McKenzie has written several books already, and her mastery of her medium is clear. In 2009 she won the Red House Children's Book Award, a prize highly valued by authors as it is the only prize where winners are selected by the readers themselves. She manages, in Time Train to the Blitz, to provide many telling details of life during World War II for her readers, many of whom will, like Joe himself, have studied the era at school. But she never loses sight of the fact that this book is primarily a breath-taking adventure story, not a school book. It is an excellent read, and I sincerely hope we will soon be able to read about further, and even more exciting, journeys on the Time Train.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Fans of Sophie McKenzie will enjoy The Medusa Project series, while a more serious and frightening aspect of war can be found in Once and Then by Morris Gleitzman .

Buy Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon.com.


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