Title: The Children of the King
Author: Sonya Hartnett
Genre: Young Adult/Historical
Three children have been sent to live in the countryside, safe from the war in London. When they find two boys hiding in a castle, the past and future come together to make an extraordinary adventure.
During WWII people’s lives from both sides of the conflict were turned upside down. In England city children were evacuated to the country for their safety. Jeremy (14) and Cecily (12) were sent to the country, but their evacuation was a bit more comfortable as they went to a large manor house to stay with their uncle Peregrine, and their mother went with them. At the station they decide to offer their home to one of the little evacuees, May (10) and they all head off to Heron Hall – with its very own collection of ruins. May meets two young boys hiding in the ruins and it soon becomes apparent that they are not run-away evacuees, but little ghosts who are not moving on.
THE CHILDREN OF THE KING combines two historical events very skillfully. As Uncle Peregrine relates the history of the ruins and how they are linked to Richard III and the missing Princes in the tower; the war arrives in Britain. The descriptions of the bombing of London are among the best I have read and moved me to tears. These scenes star Jeremy who is a wonderful character – a young boy on the cusp of manhood frustrated that he can’t go and fight for his country wanting so badly to make his mark in life. Stopped from doing this by his age and the adults that care for him his life has parallels to Prince Edward – the oldest prince from the tower.
Cecily was a character I found hard to love – an uppity little madam who has been spoiled and cosseted her own life and is only just beginning to realize that life is not all roses. War is about death – there is no getting around it and Cecily is now of an age where she realizes things are serious but just doesn’t want to face facts yet. For the first time in her 12 years of life, things are not falling into place for her. May was picked for Cecily to lord over, and May just didn’t play the game so gradually Cecily comes to find out that sometimes you have to play nicely. I don’t think Cecily is a horrible person, she just hadn’t had to worry about what other people might want.
May was also a lovely little character. Although at 10 she is the youngest of the trio she is wise beyond her years. Her father has gone to France to fight and her mother is working in a factory making parachutes. Cecily scoffs at this activity being important for the war effort until it is pointed out that the soldiers would need parachutes when they jump out of planes to kill the enemy.
The two young boys are of course the princes from the Tower, they appear only briefly yet their story is crucial to the plot. Part ghost story, part coming of age THE CHILDREN OF THE KING is a wonderful read and would make a great discussion book for children in their early teens.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
For more about the author – Click Here
The Children of the King is book # 10 for AWW2013