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Under Attack by Jim Eldridge and Dave Shepherd

My sons are army barmy as they say, and have been begging for military stories so I was delighted to see this in the Barrington Stoke range. The book reminded me a bit of a cross between the old Commando comic books and Action Man books with heroes blazing to the rescue, but sadly I found something lacking. It is a very short story and packed with action, but there really does not seem to be any character development. The story itself is very simple but flat. The Taliban attacks a hospital repeatedly and the British Army comes to the rescue. A very small child is shot and the doctor elects to perform emergency surgery on a kitchen table rather than waiting for the helicopter to arrive, but the Taliban haven't given up. The doctor valiantly tries to operate to remove a bullet next to the child's heart under the most desperate of circumstances, without blood, anaesthetics etc.... all the while under heavy fire. Will the British Army be able to save the day?

Under Attack by Jim Eldridge and Dave Shepherd

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Action packed, dyslexia friendly war story.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 60 Date: July 2013
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781122112

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My oldest son enjoyed some aspects of this book. He liked the front cover picture and the illustrations of things like helicopters and weapons. He did enjoy the fire fights to some extent. He did not like the details of the little girl's operation. I don't think he was able to really identify with characters and overall he was not overly impressed, but he did finish it and he did get some enjoyment from it. Admittedly, at age 8 he is much younger than the recommended age, but he usually does enjoy this type of book. He is also more of a stickler for realism than most children his age. I didn't hate the book, and I can see its value in encouraging boys to read, but I did have some issues with it.

I found this very unrealistic. I can't imagine a doctor doing heart surgery under these circumstances with help on the way. It felt far too staged. I also felt the use of such a young child as the victim and the continuing attacks as the doctor fights for her life just a bit a over the top. I have strong feelings about dehumanising an enemy and prefer books that increase tolerance and understanding, but I recognise others might be less concerned with this, and a younger reader might be less taken with the implausibility of it all. If you're looking for a simple shoot 'em up with a bit of chop 'em up in the form of primitive surgery this may well do. But this lacks the depth I have come to expect from this publisher.

On the plus side, Under Attack is part of Barrington Stoke's line of books written specifically for children with dyslexia. These books follow all of the guidelines of the British Dyslexia Association for dyslexia-friendly text. Working with a team of experts in the field, Barrington Stoke have developed their own font which is especially designed to make reading as easy as possible for children with dyslexia. They also print all of their books on a thick, off white, non-glare paper to minimise distractions which can make reading more difficult. The print is large and double spaced, with short chapters and short stories created to build confidence. The stories are commissioned by Barrington Stoke, usually from very well known authors, and are written to appeal to older children, with a high interest level but a low reading level.

Barrington Stoke also has some of the best stories we have come across for older children. These are usually books you just cannot put down. My own child does not suffer from dyslexia, but he has commented on how much easier it is to read the books with this style of print. The double spacing and frequent breaks mean he does not lose his place in the book, and makes reading a far more enjoyable experience. These books can literally be life changing for a child who is struggling to learn to read, but they make reading easier for all young children, whether they have disabilities or not. This book is listed as a reading age of 7 and an interest age of teen. This particular book might not have been completely our cup of tea, but I do know boys who would love it, many of them younger than teens, so I would recommend this for boys age 10+ who enjoy quick, action packed reads.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy:

Heroes (Most Wanted) by Anne Perry

Dead Brigade by James Lovegrove

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Buy Under Attack by Jim Eldridge and Dave Shepherd at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Under Attack by Jim Eldridge and Dave Shepherd at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Under Attack by Jim Eldridge and Dave Shepherd at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Under Attack by Jim Eldridge and Dave Shepherd at


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