It’s July 1st 1916, at the Western Front. The soldiers are preparing for the ‘First Wave’. The regimental Colonel is making the experience Charlie and Eddie face sound like a simple and quick task. But nothing can calm the pants-wetting terror that overwhelms Eddie as he lies curled up in the trench.
The following story is one of tragedy, mismanagement and devastation. Paul Dowsell has written a vivid account of the harsh, gut-wrenching horrors of WW1 without the blood and guts. His vivid descriptions place the reader directly in the scene. Frequently I found my senses awakened to the men’s fear and suffering; my heart thumping with compassion at their dire predicament.
The account isn’t just about sadness and death. It takes time to soften the harshness of war by presenting the feminine side. It reflects on how the young women that were left behind to do men’s work, found a strange freedom. They discovered freedom of choice, and confidence in their decisions about what to do, and where to go without the permission or companionship of men. This also endowed them with strength and a sense of purpose.
All this is brilliantly portrayed through a then and now sequence. Its prose commands attention with its brevity, whilst the carefully chosen words fill the pages with images.
I loved everything about this book. It has been thoughtfully presented so it makes an impact no matter how it is examined. It’s not only the way the story is designed. It’s also the cover, excellent black shadowed artwork, and choice of font that sits elegantly on light coloured quality paper that speaks of time and interest. This worthy book is from the Barrington Stoke Teen selection of outstanding publications.
Author: Paul Dowswell
Illustrator: David Wardle
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $13.99 RRP
Publication Date: 22 June 2016
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Fiction, Young Adult Fiction