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Catching Falling Stars by Karen McCombie

It is 1940 and after a year of the phoney war London is suffering in the Blitz. Glory and her younger brother Rich have now been evacuated to a country village far from everything they know and love. When the arrangements made by their mother fall through the children are sent to live with Miss Saunders, a cold and unwelcoming woman who is not popular in the village and Glory wonders if they would have been better off remaining in London despite the danger of falling bombs. The local children appear unfriendly and even in the countryside they are not completely safe from the enemy. All Glory wants is to return home to her parents but she will soon discover that her life is to change in unexpected ways and she will learn that her first impressions should not always be trusted.

Catching Falling Stars by Karen McCombie

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Anne Thompson
Reviewed by Anne Thompson
Summary: Karen McCombie's 80th book and her first historical novel, set in World War 2, will appeal to competent readers of about 9+. A likeable main character and a plot involving danger, evacuation, friendships made and broken and sibling loyalty and love combine in an enjoyable and very readable book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781407138893

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By the time I had finished Chapter Two I was hooked! The story is told in the first person and Glory's voice is an engaging one. After setting the scene and introducing the family Karen McCombie moves swiftly on to the action and this start should quickly draw young readers in to the story. I am reluctant to describe this as an easy read as that would suggest a story with little depth which is a long way from being true; however, this is a very readable book. The author has a light touch and the writing is conversational in style bringing the character of Glory to life for children, probably in particular to girls of a similar age. I really warmed to Glory who hides her fear and worry under a veneer of capability. Her relationship with her little brother is touching as she takes on the maternal role in the absence of their parents. Rich is a delightful little chap but prone to anxiety and worry, as Glory says he's different enough to be bullied.

As the children start to settle in to life in the village of Thorntree they gradually form friendships with some of the children and life in the cottage with Miss Saunders is to change as all parties learn to adapt to their circumstances. There are several events that influence these changes including the visit by the children's teenage sister and occasions when the village and its inhabitants are put in danger. The ending brings all the facets of the story, and indeed many of the characters, together in a manner that works well and will, I think, feel satisfying to a child reading the book.

As a school librarian I receive lots of requests for stories set in World War 2 and this is definitely one that I will be recommending in future. I think that readers who don't normally choose historical books will enjoy this too as there is so much in the book that is relevant to today's children. Most young readers can empathise with characters that worry about friendships issues and problems with siblings.

The eye catching cover by Jamie Gregory deserves a mention as it will be appealing to readers and makes it stand out on the shelf. Thank you to Scholastic Children's Books for sending this review copy to the Bookbag.

If you are looking for other children's books on a similar theme the most well-known children's book about evacuees is probably Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian I also particularly like The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo which is set in World War 2 too.

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Buy Catching Falling Stars by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Catching Falling Stars by Karen McCombie at


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