Reviews /

Operation Banana

Authored by Tony Bradman
Illustrated by Tania Rex
Published by Barrington Stoke

Tagged , , ,

Operation Banana is a heart-warming story by Tony Bradman about an eleven-year-old girl, Susan, and her mum during World War Two. Susan’s Dad is fighting in North Africa, and she looks forward to his long letters which are peppered with jokes and funny drawings. They haven’t heard from him for a few months, and Susan is getting worried.

She is also worried about Mum. Three years of war, constant bad news on the radio, as well as working long hours at the factory, mean that Mum is always tired and sad. Susan resolves to cheer Mum up – but how?

Susan’s friend Jimmy comes up with the idea of getting her Mum a banana (hence the book’s title), but where on earth can they get one from? With food rationing, and boats not able to transport goods from overseas, bananas are like gold dust.

I really enjoyed that Operation Banana has little explanations written into the text for the reader as you go along. Tony Bradman thoughtfully explains food rationing, evacuation and schoolteachers coming back from retirement to help out in the war effort. The book would be a really useful accompaniment to a class topic on World War Two in KS2. I’m sure children would be fascinated to realise that foods we take for granted nowadays, such as bananas, were impossible to get hold of, and were considered high-end, luxury items.

The book also explores, in a very gentle way, doing the right thing and following rules. When approaching Doreen, the daughter of the local black marketeer, Susan knows that this isn’t something that her father would approve of. It’s especially poignant when Doreen demands from Susan something that her father gave her as a gift before he went away to war.

Operation Banana is short enough for a quick class read aloud, as it is five chapters long. It would also be ideal for those children in your class who struggle to read longer texts. The Barrington Stoke format of short chapters, cream pages and clear font are not only dyslexia friendly, but also mean that all children can access an enjoyable and informative story about World War Two.