Review Blog

Feb 16 2009

The sniper by James Riordan

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2008. ISBN 9781845078850
Ages 11+ With the German Army advancing, and the Russian Army still nowhere to be seen, Stalingrad is the last hope of stalling the army until help arrives. Going to school one day, Tania is surprised to find that they are assigned to fill sandbags to buffer the petrol storage, and the next few days, they are taken away and trained to use anti-aircraft guns. But later, when she takes a message to the army, she is drafted into a sniper training crew, and from there is smuggled back into Stalingrad to do what she was trained to do, kill Germans.
Base on a true story, the tale of this sixteen year old schoolgirl is riveting. We hear of her training in anti aircraft guns and then their use, followed by her sniper training and then putting that into action. Each step of the way takes us further into this young girl's life and how it was changed by war. The astonishing thing is that she survived the battle of Stalingrad, credited with many kills, and Riordan, working in the Battle of Stalingrad Museum in 2002, was invited to meet her, a little old woman sitting in the corner. From their discussions and discussions with others, following her death , Riordan wrote this book, a fitting tribute both to her bravery and those of all children caught up in war.
Fran Knight

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