Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1885
The Battle of Dunkirk
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Aidan lives in a fishing village in England. His one brother has died in the war, but George is still off fighting. His parents are grieving Trevor's death and are weary of the war. Aidan and his friend Sally have fixed a broken radio and have been hearing transmissions about upcoming events, and when they find out about the all-call for help at Dunkirk, they make their plans. Aidan's father, quite rightly, doesn't want to risk the family boat in this endeavor, and forbids Aidan from going, even locking him in his bedroom. With Sally's help, he escapes, and the two take off for the action. They are able to help quite a few soldiers get to safety, and even help George, but since Sally has eaten for a while, she becomes faint and is handed off to the care of a family helping as well. The Battle of Dunkirk was a very serious one, and while local fisherman were influential in turning the tide, it was extremely dangerous, and several of our main characters are injured.
Good Points
While there are many, many fiction books that cover fighting during World War II, I can only think of John Tunis' Silence over Dunkerque that covers this battle, and that book was published in 1962! The appeal of this particular battle is that the majority of combatants were fishermen and regular folk from along the coast who saw what was going on and hoped that their attempts could stop it.

Having a middle grade character want to be part of this is a great idea. If parents say no, what child doesn't want to do something? I'm not sure what the actual number of children involved in the battle was, but it is an intriguing premise.

Courageous is a quick pick for reluctant readers who need to have a book about World War II for a project, but are not really interested in the topic, but also for avid fans of this military conflict who have not read enough about Dunkirk. It has very nice notes and glossary at the back, and is told in simple, direct language. The cover is appealing and the story action packed. Hand this to readers of Sherman's military series, Spadlin's Prisoner of War, Gratz's Grenade, or the work of Dean Hughes.
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