Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Winner of the CBCA Book for Younger Readers.

England is at war and for their safety city children are being sent to the countryside.  Fourteen year old Jeremy and his sister Cecily, twelve, are sent with their mother to stay with Uncle Peregrine in a stately manor.  On the spur of the moment they offer Heron Hall to ten year old May, an evacuee whose father is a soldier fighting overseas in France, and whose mother is working in a factory making parachutes.

Jeremy wants to DO SOMETHING, not sit back in the countryside, safe. So while he devours the newspapers and the stories of the war, Cecily and May roam the Hall’s grounds and discover the ruins of Snow Castle. Here they discover two boys. Are they evacuees trying to find their way back to London? Or are they much more?

Uncle Peregrine begins to tell the story of greedy kings and devious brothers, and of how two young boys are locked in a tower, all for the lust for power.  This tale is woven into the lives of those in Heron Hall. Could the boys in the ruins of Snow Castle be the two princes?

A strange mix of an old fashioned adventure tale combined with a ghost story; it is also about the loss of innocence. Each of the children has to grow up and face facts.  Jeremy who has to understand that he is still only a child, May has to accept her new life and even spoilt and brat-like Cecily has to understand the impact that war has on her family and those around her.

A good read recommended for those in the older primary years. It tells not only of war and how power corrupts, it also tells the tale of how so many children were taken from their homes, removed from their families and loved ones.

Vicki @ Pakenham