Captivating, enchanting, entertaining – quality writing for children

‘Peggy Larkin’s War’ by Trevor Forest

It’s often a sign of
quality in a children’s book that it has equal appeal for adults. And, in the
case of ‘Peggy Larkin’s War’, this is certainly true.

Set at the beginning
of World War Two, it tells the story of Peggy Larkin, a young girl who is
evacuated from London
to the countryside. There’s the mystery of a locked room in the house that
Peggy lodges in and of the reason behind the sadness of Mrs Henderson, the
house’s owner. There’s also the sinister presence of a stranger in the woods. The
story follows Peggy as she endures separation from her parents and makes a
brave attempt to settle into her new life. Along the way she makes a new friend
and demonstrates remarkable stoicism and resilience.

Forest’s writing is excellent and is pitched
perfectly for its intended readership of upper primary school age children. He
doesn’t patronise and he writes with an immediacy and economy that will appeal
to children. Forest never intrudes into the story, and it never feels like he’s
trying to educate or preach. This is child-friendly, accessible entertainment.
It’s all about the story. It’s vividly told and it’s easy to visualise the characters and settings. It has the feel of a BBC children’s drama at times.

The only disappointing
aspect for me was the book’s brevity. Having set up such great characters and a
setting with so many possibilities, it would have been good to have further
chapters and more adventures for Peggy.

It would also be great
to see this book in paperback. At the moment it’s only available for Kindle and
at least as far as my own pupils are concerned primary school children don’t
tend to own e-book readers. It’s got a cracking good cover for one thing. But
more importantly than that, it would be a good book to have in school libraries
and in World War Two project boxes.

But in the mean time
parents, grandparents and teachers it would be well worth purchasing Peggy’s
story for your Kindle’s and reading this aloud to the children in your lives.