Thursday, November 01, 2018

Air Raid Search and Rescue

Sutter, Marcus. Soldier Dogs #1: Air Raid Search and Rescue
June 5th 2018 by HarperFestival
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Marcus and his family have moved to the United Kingdom for his father's job, and are unfortunately caught their during World War II. His older brother Matt has joined the army, and left his dog, Chief, with Marcus. The family has taken in a German girl, Rachel, as part of the attempts to provide homes for Jewish refugee children via the Kindertransport. When the city where they reside, Canterbury, is targeted by the Baedeker Blitz movement the Germans instituted to knock out British landmarks, the children are afraid. They are prepared, and know what they need to do in case of an attack, but it is still not a comfortable thought. When their mother has to tend to a neighbor lady who has gone into labor, Marcus and Rachel are on their own. Luckily, they have Chief by their side, so are able to not only follow their family evacuation plan, but to help find people caught in the rubble. When both children are in a precarious situation, can they count on Chief's skills to be saved?

Despite the cast number of fictionalized stories about World War II, there have not been a lot of stories about children in towns being bombed since the 1970s. (There were also a lot of stories about evacuating children to the country at that time as well-- think even as far back as the Chronicles of Narnia books!) I had never heard of the Baedeker Blitz, and I love a book that teaches me something. Being in a town that is being bombed was certainly a reality that many children faced, and is as harrowing and exciting to read about as descriptions of fighting battles.

There are a growing number of books highlighting the service of our canine friends, including C. Alexander London's Dog Tags series, Shotz's Scout: National Hero, and Alison Hart's Dog Chronicles, but there is certainly room for more, right along with stand alone titles like Kadohata's Cracker and nonfiction like Weintraub' s No Better Friend . Dog stories, as well as war stories, are of great interest to middle grade readers, and a dog on the cover always makes a book appealing!

I especially liked the relationship between Marcus and Rachel, and Rachel's growing realization that she would likely never see her family in Germany again. Children who were displaced away from their families for their own good often struggled to feel a sense of belonging afterwards, and it's reassuring to think that there were a few children, like Rachel, who were able to find a new family.

At some point, all of the different stories about World War II will have been told, but the last time I checked, this coverage of the Baedeker Blitz is unique, and a thrilling story of a difficult time in British history.

1 comment:

  1. Actually The Exeter Blitz by David Rees about the bombing of Coventry Cathedral is a Baedecker Blitz story. It was also a very good middle grade book.