Review Blog

Apr 17 2009

Shrapnel by Robert Swindells

cover image Corgi Books 2009.
(Ages 9+) A gripping wartime drama which restored my faith in Robert Swindells after it was severely tested by his previous novel, The Shade of Hettie Daynes!, Shrapnel has all the hallmarks of

Swindells at his best; a fast moving story that pulsates with action, short and gripping chapters, a believable setting and an exciting denouement.

Gordon's older brother Raymond is rather an enigma - when most lads his age want to join the RAF and fight for king and country, Raymond somehow avoids joining up and leaves home in mysterious circumstances. Soon after Raymond's departure Gordon discovers a pistol hidden in his older brother's bedroom. When he eventually tracks his brother down, he discovers that Raymond is a secret agent doing highly dangerous war work for the government. Thrilled and excited, Gordon finds himself recruited to help in this essential work. Is he about to become a spy and help defeat Hitler, or is Raymond not quite everything that he claims to be?
Swindells brings the era of World War Two to life in this exciting boy-friendly story. It may lack the impact of Once and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but readers will learn plenty about daily life during World War Two including rationing, air-raids and schoolboy shrapnel collections. A useful addition to upper junior class libraries and well worth directing towards confident but reluctant readers.
Claire Larson

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