My Friend, The Enemy

My Friend, The Enemy
Author(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
August 26, 2014
ISBN
9780545665421
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Peter feels compelled to help a wounded German pilot, but he doesn't want to be a traitor--especially not to his father, who is off fighting the Nazis. A moving story about the moral dilemmas of war. Summer 1941: For Peter, the war is a long way away, being fought by his father and thousands of other British soldiers against the faceless threat of Nazism. But war comes frighteningly close to home one night when a German jet is shot down over the neighboring woods. With his feisty new friend Kim, Peter rushes to the crash site to see if there's anything he can salvage. What he finds instead is a German airman. The enemy. Seriously wounded and in need of aid... Continuing in the tradition of thought-provoking literature about the Second World War, Dan Smith's MY FRIEND THE ENEMY is a thrilling adventure that also personalizes the moral dilemmas faced by the children left behind on the home front.

Editor review

1 review
WWII on the British Home Front
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
When a German plane crashes in a field near Peter's house in the English countryside, he and the other children in the area are enthralled. When the adults have cleared off, Peter and Kim, an evacuee, search the plane and find a "souvenir" handgun as well as the body of one of the pilots. Other children have seen a parachute go down, so Peter and Kim search for another German soldier, and find one. He begs them not to shoot him, and the children decide that if they turn him over, the Home Guard might well kill the man, who is injured. They put him up in a pheasant coop that Peter's father (who was a gamekeeper for Mr. Bennet's estate and is currently a pilot) built and attempt to bring him food and mend his injuries. The war has caused everything to be rationed, so this is not an easy thing to do. Kim becomes a great friend to Peter; even though she is a girl, she dresses like a boy and is fearless. The two spend a lot of time with Erik, the flyer, and come to understand that he is just like Peter's father and Kim's brother, who are fighting even though they don't particularly want to. The people in Peter's village continue to look for the downed flyer, and a local bully makes Peter's life even more difficult, although Mr. Bennett has taken a shine to Peter's mother and brings the struggling family much needed supplies. The children know that they can't keep Erik a secret forever, and a tragic accident leads to his discovery.

While there have been plenty of books about children taking care of enemy soldiers, this one seemed fresh and very interesting. The details of life for the British during the war is told in vivid detail in a way that will be applicable to young readers, and the slow realization that the Germans are just the same as the English is well done. Even the minor sub plot of Mr. Bennet's interest in the mother was a nice touch. The cover is fantastic, so I will definitely buy a copy for y insatiable WWII readers.
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