Reviews /

Until The Road Ends

Authored by Phil Earle
Published by Anderson Press

Until The Road Ends is the third book in Phil Earle’s collection about animals during The Blitz in World War 2, which tells the story of the beautiful friendship between a girl called Peggy and a stray dog: whose life she saves.

Like the other books, this story was inspired by real people and events: the bombing of Balham High Road and a stray dog called Rip who saved the lives of over 100 people. Like Rip – Beau is saved from the streets and, with the exception of a very territorial cat, finds himself immersed into a loving family. He is extremely content – all he wishes for is to be by Peggy’s side, yet the awful news of imminent war breaks out and before they know it, everything has changed. Peggy begs her father to keep Beau safe while she is away as she has ‘no intention of letting go‘.

The bombings begin and dogs are not allowed in the underground shelter, so Beau accompanies Peggy’s father on his warden duties. Beau proves himself to be a war hero in his own right, however, disaster strikes bringing tragedy in its wake. Life as they know it is never to be the same again and thus begins a long journey, alongside two very unlikely companions, as Beau endeavours to keep his promise to always remain by Peggy’s side.

There are many reasons why I think this is a very special book. I would include it, not only in school/class libraries, or book groups but enjoy it as a whole class read aloud. The fact that it is inspired by true events will really appeal to children (and adults alike) as it will inspire them to find out more about the stories. Phil Earle is masterful in blending facts with story, sadness with humour, despair with hope and all the while making the reader feel like they are part of each journey as it unfolds.

The relationship between the characters is so cleverly constructed. They face many challenges that children face on a day-to-day basis: they argue, they don’t always agree, but they learn from their mistakes and from each other; they become leaders, laugh together and make sacrifices along the way. Where the adult can play a powerful role, is to use this story to empower children and to help them learn about the importance of doing all of these things in an extraordinary situation and to never underestimate the importance of friendship, loyalty, determination and love.