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Letters from the Lighthouse: ‘THE QUEEN OF HISTORICAL FICTION’ Guardian

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We weren't supposed to be going to the pictures that night. We weren't even meant to be outside, not in a blackout, and definitely not when German bombs had been falling on London all month like pennies from a jar. *WINNER* BOOKS ARE MY BAG MIDDLE GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 *WINNER* LEEDS BOOK AWARDS 2018 WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH MAY 2017 THE BOOKSELLER EDITOR We weren't supposed to be going to the pictures that night. We weren't even meant to be outside, not in a blackout, and definitely not when German bombs had been falling on London all month like pennies from a jar. *WINNER* BOOKS ARE MY BAG MIDDLE GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 *WINNER* LEEDS BOOK AWARDS 2018 WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH MAY 2017 THE BOOKSELLER EDITOR'S 9-12 PICK OF THE MONTH THE TIMES CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he's not used to company and he certainly doesn't want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she's desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.


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We weren't supposed to be going to the pictures that night. We weren't even meant to be outside, not in a blackout, and definitely not when German bombs had been falling on London all month like pennies from a jar. *WINNER* BOOKS ARE MY BAG MIDDLE GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 *WINNER* LEEDS BOOK AWARDS 2018 WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH MAY 2017 THE BOOKSELLER EDITOR We weren't supposed to be going to the pictures that night. We weren't even meant to be outside, not in a blackout, and definitely not when German bombs had been falling on London all month like pennies from a jar. *WINNER* BOOKS ARE MY BAG MIDDLE GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 *WINNER* LEEDS BOOK AWARDS 2018 WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH MAY 2017 THE BOOKSELLER EDITOR'S 9-12 PICK OF THE MONTH THE TIMES CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he's not used to company and he certainly doesn't want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she's desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.

30 review for Letters from the Lighthouse: ‘THE QUEEN OF HISTORICAL FICTION’ Guardian

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leila

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was an easy read set in World War II, with the book being for young adults, but it is beautifully written. I lived through World War II so it held a special draw for me. Lighthouses have always been an interesting topic for me too. I did read it really quickly There is secrecy, mystery, adventure and real danger within the story which is narrated by the main character, a twelve years old girl. The style is reminiscent of Michael Morpurgo's writing. I will be looking for more books written b This was an easy read set in World War II, with the book being for young adults, but it is beautifully written. I lived through World War II so it held a special draw for me. Lighthouses have always been an interesting topic for me too. I did read it really quickly There is secrecy, mystery, adventure and real danger within the story which is narrated by the main character, a twelve years old girl. The style is reminiscent of Michael Morpurgo's writing. I will be looking for more books written by Emma Carroll.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I'm sure I would've really enjoyed this when I was younger. A lovely idea, but ultimately predictable and anti-climactic. The parts where something actually happened were rushed and the rest was a slog. I loved the concept, but unfortunately I don't feel it was executed to its full potential. (3 stars for nostalgia.) I'm sure I would've really enjoyed this when I was younger. A lovely idea, but ultimately predictable and anti-climactic. The parts where something actually happened were rushed and the rest was a slog. I loved the concept, but unfortunately I don't feel it was executed to its full potential. (3 stars for nostalgia.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emma Robertson

    Well what can I say Emma Carroll has brought an enlightened and heart wrenching version of events during WW2 with the poignancy of Good Night Mr Tom and the sad reality of the plight of Jewish refugees trying to flee to the UK. This book portrays both the light and shade of humanity in its truest form. I had no idea the difficulties Jews faced trying to enter our country at such a time and wish that our laws would have done more to help. The book is based on a family whose father a pilot was lost Well what can I say Emma Carroll has brought an enlightened and heart wrenching version of events during WW2 with the poignancy of Good Night Mr Tom and the sad reality of the plight of Jewish refugees trying to flee to the UK. This book portrays both the light and shade of humanity in its truest form. I had no idea the difficulties Jews faced trying to enter our country at such a time and wish that our laws would have done more to help. The book is based on a family whose father a pilot was losted in the fighting. We meet three siblings during an air raid in London and follow Olive and her brother Cliff on the hunt for the truth to their sister going missing. This book takes you to a rural seaside village and the secrets it holds from them and each other. This fictionalised story is as memorable as Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful and as beautifully written as Warhorse. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could give it nothing less than 5 stars. Although this is childrens fiction as an adult I found it both interesting and heart wrenching.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    There’s so many great Children’s historical fiction available at the minute and Carroll continues that trend. Straight from the opening few chapters during the London blitz, it’s becomes clear on how much attention to detail the author try’s to explain what life was like during this time to younger readers. I really liked the main character Olive, always inquisitive and loves her books! The story might tread similar territory to other books set around this time, but I feel it’s important to continu There’s so many great Children’s historical fiction available at the minute and Carroll continues that trend. Straight from the opening few chapters during the London blitz, it’s becomes clear on how much attention to detail the author try’s to explain what life was like during this time to younger readers. I really liked the main character Olive, always inquisitive and loves her books! The story might tread similar territory to other books set around this time, but I feel it’s important to continue to teach youngsters about this bleak period. It also sets out the important message of compassion. This book is deserving the praise that it is receiving.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    Emma Carroll is my 8 year old daughter's favourite author. After reading all of Carroll's books, I have to say that she is one of my favourites too. I get impatient waiting for my daughter to finish the books so I can read them, and she gets impatient waiting for me to finish so she can talk about them. My daughter said "I really liked this book and it has to have a 5 star rating. The characters are amazing and the plot is amazing. Everyone should read this book. Thanks Emma Carroll. I can't wait Emma Carroll is my 8 year old daughter's favourite author. After reading all of Carroll's books, I have to say that she is one of my favourites too. I get impatient waiting for my daughter to finish the books so I can read them, and she gets impatient waiting for me to finish so she can talk about them. My daughter said "I really liked this book and it has to have a 5 star rating. The characters are amazing and the plot is amazing. Everyone should read this book. Thanks Emma Carroll. I can't wait to read your next book The Lost Boy." If you haven't read any Carroll books before then you need to add them all to your reading list right now. Perfect for KS2 children and adults alike!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diamond

    Although I've read this a very long time ago, rereding this book was worth it) ♡it is really intriguing and mysterious. Emma Carroll knows how to keep readers thrilled. Although I've read this a very long time ago, rereding this book was worth it) ♡it is really intriguing and mysterious. Emma Carroll knows how to keep readers thrilled.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    In the midst of World War Two, a bombing in London becomes the explosive catalyst that sees two sisters separated. Along with her younger brother, Cliff, Olive is evacuated to the Devonshire town of Budmouth Point with no answer as to what happened to her older sister. Yet amongst this close-knit community, she discovers a mystery which ties Sukie to a plot as dangerous as it is mysterious. In Letters from the Lighthouse, Carroll not only captures the past with an engaging and affecting narrativ In the midst of World War Two, a bombing in London becomes the explosive catalyst that sees two sisters separated. Along with her younger brother, Cliff, Olive is evacuated to the Devonshire town of Budmouth Point with no answer as to what happened to her older sister. Yet amongst this close-knit community, she discovers a mystery which ties Sukie to a plot as dangerous as it is mysterious. In Letters from the Lighthouse, Carroll not only captures the past with an engaging and affecting narrative but shows herself to be a leading historical novelist for children. More of my review here.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Callaghan

    A wonderful story, beautifully told. It deserves all the praise it has received and is destined to become a 'classic'. A wonderful story, beautifully told. It deserves all the praise it has received and is destined to become a 'classic'.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A wonderfully woven adventure story about courage, grief, friendship and tolerance set during WWII. When Olive is caught in an air raid, her mum decides that it is time her children were evacuated out of London and she is sent, with her brother, Cliff, to live in a small coastal village in Devon. There, Olive will learn some of the most important lessons of her life, including just how much she is capable of. "We were the going to be beaten by hate" is a message that transcends the period settin A wonderfully woven adventure story about courage, grief, friendship and tolerance set during WWII. When Olive is caught in an air raid, her mum decides that it is time her children were evacuated out of London and she is sent, with her brother, Cliff, to live in a small coastal village in Devon. There, Olive will learn some of the most important lessons of her life, including just how much she is capable of. "We were the going to be beaten by hate" is a message that transcends the period setting, speaking straight to a contemporary audience. The story serves as a poignant and timely reminder that understanding, respect and compassion can defeat prejudice and bigotry. I would definitely recommend this for UKS2 to really get to the heart of some really challenging and emotive issues. A great way in to those difficult discussions that we need to have with our children these days.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice)

    Letters From The Lighthouse is a middle-grade historical fiction novel that I really enjoyed reading! It follows siblings from London called Olive and Cliff, who after bombs are dropped close to where they live, they end up being evacuated and arrive in a coastal village. After some awkward encounters, both of them move in with the lighthouse keeper Mr Ephraim. It's clear however, that some of the residents in the village have some deep secrets which, if revealed to the authorities could turn na Letters From The Lighthouse is a middle-grade historical fiction novel that I really enjoyed reading! It follows siblings from London called Olive and Cliff, who after bombs are dropped close to where they live, they end up being evacuated and arrive in a coastal village. After some awkward encounters, both of them move in with the lighthouse keeper Mr Ephraim. It's clear however, that some of the residents in the village have some deep secrets which, if revealed to the authorities could turn nasty for them all. I loved the writing style, it was visual and atmospheric. Emma has definitely done her research into the settings and characters. There was a real mystery aspect that kept me reading and guessing up until the last chapter. Will look into reading her other novels for sure!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brona's Books

    On the cover of one of Carroll’s books, she is proclaimed as the Queen of historical fiction. I now understand why. I would have gobbled this WWII story up in one greedy reading session as a young girl. Drama, suspense and lots of action where the kids have to solve stuff themselves. Perfect for that 10+ history buff in your family.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Emma Carroll does it again! A beautifully written story that brings her characters to life. You feel like you are with them every step of the way. Such a great theme from the past that is so relevant for children to understand in today's age. Loved it! Emma Carroll does it again! A beautifully written story that brings her characters to life. You feel like you are with them every step of the way. Such a great theme from the past that is so relevant for children to understand in today's age. Loved it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kieran Fanning

    A well researched, beautifully written piece of historical fiction which is very accessible, evocative and full of adventure, mystery & great characters. Emma Carroll is the "wasp's ankles"! A well researched, beautifully written piece of historical fiction which is very accessible, evocative and full of adventure, mystery & great characters. Emma Carroll is the "wasp's ankles"!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dom Conlon

    Emma Carroll does that most difficult of things, finds a new voice in wartime storytelling. Letters from the Lighthouse is told with a lightness of touch which makes for a deeply engaging tale but the real joy is in the small details. This isn’t a story about one girl against an evil empire. The protagonist doesn’t save the world. Instead it is the story of voices and how letting them be heard can change lives. It’s a thoughtful, and still very exciting, book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tia

    What a great little book. Carroll captures the reader's interest right from the beginning and maintains it throughout the book. There are plenty of 'sub' storylines that run throughout the book, creating questions as you read. Why is Esther how she is? Who is Mrs Arby? Why is Queenie the way she is? Why are we not allowed to find out what is in Ephraim's cupboards or the top floor, and finally the big question- Where is Sukie and what does the note mean? Carroll takes the readers on an emotional What a great little book. Carroll captures the reader's interest right from the beginning and maintains it throughout the book. There are plenty of 'sub' storylines that run throughout the book, creating questions as you read. Why is Esther how she is? Who is Mrs Arby? Why is Queenie the way she is? Why are we not allowed to find out what is in Ephraim's cupboards or the top floor, and finally the big question- Where is Sukie and what does the note mean? Carroll takes the readers on an emotional 'treasure hunt', encouraging us to empathise with Olive as well as gaining an understanding of what it might have been like to live as an evacuee during the war. I couldn't put the book down, and I think it would be an excellent read for upper KS2 children. I adored how the chapter names had relevance to the war. Although it is fiction, the book contains a lot of historical contexts and this could be a powerful teaching tool to use across the curriculum. My main critique is that the pace of the book seems to soar at some points meaning particular sections feel rushed. I do think this is more noticeable as an advanced reader. However, particular sections in the book may need to be picked apart as a group in the class in order to ensure that all children are understanding what is happening.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Zetterström-Sharp

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The story is told from the perspective of an evacuee named Olive. A main focus of the story is the growing friendship between Olive and a Jewish refugee named Esther. At first, Olive is unsure about Esther as she is different to the other children and comes across as cold and uninviting. However, as Olive listens to Esther talk more about her lived experiences as a Jew in Austria and then as a refugee in England, Olive starts to see how she initially misunderstood Esther and begins to appreciate The story is told from the perspective of an evacuee named Olive. A main focus of the story is the growing friendship between Olive and a Jewish refugee named Esther. At first, Olive is unsure about Esther as she is different to the other children and comes across as cold and uninviting. However, as Olive listens to Esther talk more about her lived experiences as a Jew in Austria and then as a refugee in England, Olive starts to see how she initially misunderstood Esther and begins to appreciate how brave and courageous she is. I think we can learn a lot from this friendship as it shows us that prejudice and discrimination can be overcome by empathy and mutual understanding. This book was truly eye opening and it has taught me a lot about the different lived experiences of WW2. Although this story is set during the 1940’s, I think parallels can be drawn between then and now as today, we see the largest number of refugees than ever before and still too little is being done to help these people.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Demelda Penkitty

    February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he's not used to company and he certainly doesn't want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie wen February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he's not used to company and he certainly doesn't want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she's desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous. WW2 story highlighting the plight of evacuated children and Jews. Cleverly done and it keeps the reader enthralled. It is a well-plotted mystery with plenty of intrigue and a satisfying ending. There is a lot packed in here as an underlying theme of prejudice is woven throughout. A heart-warming and life affirming novel of the indomitableness of the human spirit and that compassion and family love can win through. A great story and the plight of the refugees is just as relevant today. An excellent addition to the plethora of WW2 literature.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Delightful book for young adults. Lovely characters and a beautiful storyline with an important message.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jae

    An enthralling and inspiring adventure set in the WWII era. Well-written and easy to read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vonprice

    Let me start by saying that I have adored every book written by Emma Carroll, but this is my new favourite. Yet again, she has excelled in bringing to life thoroughly believable characters, capturing an authentic voice for her narrator and weaving an exciting plot which captivates you from the earliest pages. The main protagonists are Olive and Cliff, a brother and sister evacuated from London to a small fishing village in Devon during WW II. Their father has been killed, their mother appears to Let me start by saying that I have adored every book written by Emma Carroll, but this is my new favourite. Yet again, she has excelled in bringing to life thoroughly believable characters, capturing an authentic voice for her narrator and weaving an exciting plot which captivates you from the earliest pages. The main protagonists are Olive and Cliff, a brother and sister evacuated from London to a small fishing village in Devon during WW II. Their father has been killed, their mother appears to be sinking under her grief and their older sister has gone missing after a bombing raid. The author conveys the relationship between these two younger siblings beautifully; Olive's love and care for her little brother is palpable. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone. Suffice to say, it contains plenty of twists and turns to keep you engrossed, as Olive tries to decode a mysterious note she has found in the pocket of the coat that her sister was wearing on the night she vanished. Without being preachy, the story also encompasses the themes of empathy, tolerance and kindness; such important messages in our current world. I would recommend this book for anyone of 9 and above; I will certainly be buying a copy for my school's library. I think that there are a few world leaders who would benefit from reading it too! Emma Carroll, I salute you!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Judy

    Letters From the Lighthouse is absolutely sterling historical fiction. There have been many books written about the fate of child evacuees during World War 2, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest, with great care given to character and relationship development. The descriptive passages are completely unlaboured, but take the reader to the time and place with ease and believability. The characters and their rapport are genuine and gently handled, painted with a full sense of each Letters From the Lighthouse is absolutely sterling historical fiction. There have been many books written about the fate of child evacuees during World War 2, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest, with great care given to character and relationship development. The descriptive passages are completely unlaboured, but take the reader to the time and place with ease and believability. The characters and their rapport are genuine and gently handled, painted with a full sense of each of every person so that the reader really knows who they are. The mystery at the heart of the story holds an ongoing fascination, absorbing the reader with each little 'reveal'. An intriguing and surprising twist at the end makes for a wonderful, moving read. Sensitive, captivating and filled with the magic of the everyday world.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tanja

    I have read numerous stories set during World War II and having at the center the evacuation of English city children to the countryside. This one is different as it is more than narrating what it was like for these children, having to leave their families behind, to be - not always voluntarily and happily but more begrudgingly - taken in by strangers in the country side; it turns into a full-blown mystery involving code-cracking and a major rescue operation. An inquisitive and caring protagonis I have read numerous stories set during World War II and having at the center the evacuation of English city children to the countryside. This one is different as it is more than narrating what it was like for these children, having to leave their families behind, to be - not always voluntarily and happily but more begrudgingly - taken in by strangers in the country side; it turns into a full-blown mystery involving code-cracking and a major rescue operation. An inquisitive and caring protagonist, supported by a wonderful cast of secondary characters, makes this an engaging and appealing historical fiction that young readers, and in particular fans of books such as Good Night Mr Tom and The War That Saved My Life, will treasure.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Harvey

    Finished this in one sitting. The storytelling is sublime, it features two children olive and cliff who are evacuated from London during ww2. We follow them as they try to adapt to their new circumstances, while also trying to work out a code left behind by their missing sister. One of the themes in it is prejudice which I thought was tackled really well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as a work of historical fiction for children you can't go wrong with this book. Finished this in one sitting. The storytelling is sublime, it features two children olive and cliff who are evacuated from London during ww2. We follow them as they try to adapt to their new circumstances, while also trying to work out a code left behind by their missing sister. One of the themes in it is prejudice which I thought was tackled really well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as a work of historical fiction for children you can't go wrong with this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    I read regularly to my ten year old granddaughter, who is herself a devourer of books. Over the years we h,ave read some excellent books together, but today we agreed this is one of the very very best. She scored it at 4.75, the highest yet. The writing is beautiful, the story telling wonderful, the characterisation excellent. It is funny, but often very moving (tears came to my eyes several times). A visit to the bookshop is now necessary so that we can pick up more of this author’s books,

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    I wish every child (and every single politician) could read this book. I truly believe the world would become a better place. Whilst reading this, I cried once with happiness- in public no less- something that I can't remember ever happening before. This book is so moving it's unbelievable. I'm a librarian- and I've already put it in four book boxes which we lend to local schools. I know this will be a book I recommend for the rest of my career. I wish every child (and every single politician) could read this book. I truly believe the world would become a better place. Whilst reading this, I cried once with happiness- in public no less- something that I can't remember ever happening before. This book is so moving it's unbelievable. I'm a librarian- and I've already put it in four book boxes which we lend to local schools. I know this will be a book I recommend for the rest of my career.

  26. 5 out of 5

    LudmilaM

    4.5 stars. Much better than expected. War stories are always emotional, this one was done sensitively and well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    I was inspired to read this novel when I read about it on Mr. Ripley’s Enchanted Books last June. So I ordered a copy from The Book Depository and began reading the day it arrived and finished it in one sitting. Needless to say, it is a really good novel. It’s February 1941, and even though it isn't usual, older sister Sukie Bradshaw has decided to take siblings Olive, 12, and Cliff, 8, to see a movie after tea. But no sooner do they get through the newsreel but the air raid siren goes off. To ma I was inspired to read this novel when I read about it on Mr. Ripley’s Enchanted Books last June. So I ordered a copy from The Book Depository and began reading the day it arrived and finished it in one sitting. Needless to say, it is a really good novel. It’s February 1941, and even though it isn't usual, older sister Sukie Bradshaw has decided to take siblings Olive, 12, and Cliff, 8, to see a movie after tea. But no sooner do they get through the newsreel but the air raid siren goes off. To make matters worse, Sukie has disappeared. Leaving her brother at the Underground shelter, Olive goes in search of Sukie, and just as she reaches her sister, another bomb falls way too close to them. When Olive wakes up in hospital, she learns that Sukie is still missing, and that she and younger brother Cliff are going to be evacuated to Budmouth Point, on the Devon coast, for safety. Olive has already lost her dad to the war when his plane was shot down, and can’t bear that her sister may be gone too. But how can she figure out where Sukie is and who the man she met just before that bomb fell is if she’s in Devon? Still, as soon as she is able, Olive and Cliff are sent to live with Queenie, the sister of their London neighbor, and Sukie's supposed pen-pal. Things don’t work out at Queenie’s, who is always busy doing all kinds of work in the cellar, and using Olive to make deliveries for her around the village. It gets especially hairy after Olive is forced to share her room with Esther Jenkins, an evacuee with whom Olive already has a contentious relationship. Olive and Cliff soon find themselves living with Ephraim, the lighthouse keeper. Life is better at the lighthouse, where Ephraim insists on doing everything, where the food is better and Cliff even has a dog to pal around with. It doesn’t take long for Olive to realize that there’s an awful lot of activity on the lighthouse radio, much more that seems right. Meanwhile, Olive is also trying to work out the coded message she found in the coat Sukie was wearing the night she disappeared. The longer Olive is lives in Budmouth Point, the more she realizes that Sukie’s disappearance just might have something to do with the clandestine activity she's noticed among some of the village residents…but what could it possibly be? Letters from the Lighthouse is an exciting adventure and Olive is very appealing, lively narrator. There was something about her story that reminded me so much of the books I read about kids in WWII that were written during the war. The thing I noticed in those books was the ability to carry on despite the uncertainly of the future. One always hopes for the best, and that is the feeling that Carroll captured writing about Olive's search for Sukie - she is so convinced her sister is okay somewhere in the world and she needed to figure out where. As Olive's story unfolds, Carroll also provides the reader with a window though which to see and understand just what it means to be a child and live in a country at war and under siege, realistically depicting the fears and the privations, as well as the importance of family. the value of friends and neighbors, and need to learn trust and tolerance. Heading each chapter with expressions, warnings, and advice that were common during the war also helps give the novel a sense of authenticity. As much as I enjoyed Letters from the Lighthouse, I did have a few plot points that bothered me - like how did Olive end up with the coat Sukie was wearing when the bomb fell in London, and how what happened to Sukie actually happened. They were explainable, but not to my satisfaction. BUT, these were not game changers for me, and if you like historical fiction about WWII, they shouldn't be for you either. This book is recommended for readers age 9+ This book was purchased for my personal library This review was originally posted on The Children's War

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    I didn't actually realise this was a children's book when I borrowed it from my friend, however, I'm really glad I read it. **Few possible spoilers ** It's the type of book, I'd have love to have read when I was a child myself and the big kid in me allows me to gel with this book. Having read Emma Carroll's previous books and found them some what difficult to get into and sometimes even, dare I say it.. abandoned a few, I was surprised how quickly I got into this one, I'd finished it in two days I didn't actually realise this was a children's book when I borrowed it from my friend, however, I'm really glad I read it. **Few possible spoilers ** It's the type of book, I'd have love to have read when I was a child myself and the big kid in me allows me to gel with this book. Having read Emma Carroll's previous books and found them some what difficult to get into and sometimes even, dare I say it.. abandoned a few, I was surprised how quickly I got into this one, I'd finished it in two days. I found some parts of this book predictable especially the appendicitis, every child in kids books seem to have appendicitis, I'm not sure if it's meant as a warning or a gentle eye open to know that some of your organs somewhat resemble un-exploded bombs that can go off at any time. But most of it, I enjoyed. I found the characters really gelled together well, especially as some of them were odd and some of the oddest are sometimes the best. Olive to me was always very cautious that young childish way of hers trying to be diminished in order for her to make the right choices for her young brother, a lead by example, that you don't see as much these days. I expect it was the war aspect of the story, it always made people seem older than they were. Cliff was your cheeky chappy, mischievous and the kind of kid that enjoys gore and playing with things he shouldn't and then of course, Sukie, the ballsy older sister, fierce and wild but sometimes a bit ditzy. Mrs Arby as well what a bit of a shocker but the story itself, hits home and reflects on what a lot of British people did for their country but also for those who were in desperate need and if I look out to the world, I can totally recognise and relate this book to some of the things going on in the world right now an know how utterly terrifying and helpless it must be to be in that situation. I think this type of book with it's factual history references would be great for children to get an insight into what it would've been like in the war years for kids and the types of worries they might have faced. Really loved this book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Loz Mallett

    "We weren't going to be beaten by hate." Is the prevailing message throughout this book, a great springboard to books like Carrie's War, The Book Thief & The Diary of Anne Frank, etc. Whilst I've rated this a 3 overall (It's pace is quiet slow, but the wording feels very like the classics from my childhood), the message & impact that it would relate to it's typical 9-12 yr old reader deserves 5 stars. Ideas; such as prejudice, acceptation, humanitarianism, family & death, facts; about the Nazi's, s "We weren't going to be beaten by hate." Is the prevailing message throughout this book, a great springboard to books like Carrie's War, The Book Thief & The Diary of Anne Frank, etc. Whilst I've rated this a 3 overall (It's pace is quiet slow, but the wording feels very like the classics from my childhood), the message & impact that it would relate to it's typical 9-12 yr old reader deserves 5 stars. Ideas; such as prejudice, acceptation, humanitarianism, family & death, facts; about the Nazi's, soldiers, rations, evacuations, air raids & the Jewish, are so well presented & explored as to create strong, important impressions on the young readers of this book that are possibly naive on the subject matter. What's really shocking is how relatable all this is to our current situations. At times I felt like I was reading about real news footage of the refugee crisis & over-seas conflicts of today's times. I think this is actually a good thing, because none of this book is too scary or graphic, so it's like The Optician of Lampedusa for children & thus, is worthily Waterstones May Book of the Month.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Lloyd

    It is February 1941 and Olive has been evacuated to the Devon coast with her little brother, Cliff. At first, they feel unwelcome but once they move into the Lighthouse with the Keeper, Mr Ephraim, an exciting adventure begins as Olive tries to solve a coded letter left by her missing elder sister, Sukie. It is a welcome change to read a story which children, aged 7 to 11, can enjoy and which also deals with a current theme, prejudice against refugees. I particularly like the chapter headings whi It is February 1941 and Olive has been evacuated to the Devon coast with her little brother, Cliff. At first, they feel unwelcome but once they move into the Lighthouse with the Keeper, Mr Ephraim, an exciting adventure begins as Olive tries to solve a coded letter left by her missing elder sister, Sukie. It is a welcome change to read a story which children, aged 7 to 11, can enjoy and which also deals with a current theme, prejudice against refugees. I particularly like the chapter headings which echo wartime phrases such as, Make Do and Mend and Careless Talk Costs Lives. At times you might feel as if you have stumbled into an episode of “Dad’s Army” and the ending is a little too perfect but this “feel good,” story is a very enjoyable read.

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