'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 17 April 2022

Review: Please Write Soon

Please Write Soon is inspired by acclaimed author Michael Rosen’s family history. Sharing personal memories and experiences like these is something he’s done before in The Missing, which is also about the experience of World War Two, and that of Jewish people. 

In Please Write Soon, Londoner Solly tells his teacher and classmates about his Polish cousin Bernie. He shares the letters he and Bernie wrote to each other over the course of more than six years, including during the war. This epistolary approach provides a window into the minds of both boys. 

Solly tells Bernie about playing marbles, and being evacuated to a farm in the country. There he learns to milk a cow and ride a horse, and collects fresh eggs. He also watches badgers in the woods at night time and finds them clever creatures whose tunnels are like the shelters humans have been building for protection.

Bernie tells Solly about cutting trees in a work camp in Russia, and about becoming a soldier. Bernie fights in Persia and Italy and there are many times when Solly is worried about him because he doesn’t hear from him for a long time. 

Both Solly and Bernie share stories about events around them that happened in real life, including a tragic accident that killed many people at Bethnel Green underground station, and Wojtek the bear who lived with Polish soldiers. 

Using the letters between Solly and Bernie gradually builds the story to a climax. What happened to Bernie and his family? Did he survive the war? You will need to read the story to find out.

Michael Rosen is superb at creating stories that draw you in and make you care about the characters. Reading Solly and Bernie’s story helps readers understand something of the impact of war and and its personal costs. 

Readers of Please Write Soon should make sure they also read the Afterword. It explains the stories behind some of Please Write Soon, and uses it to explore the concept of remembrance and memorials. Written during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also draws parallels between remembrance of those who served in wartime, and remembrance of those who serve in health services under difficult circumstances. 

Please Write Soon is highly recommended. It doesn’t take long to read, but has a lot to say and has a big impact.

Title: Please Write Soon
Author: Michael Rosen
Illustrator: Michael Foreman
Publisher: Scholastic UK, $ 16.99
Publication Date: March 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780702315572
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Fiction