Reviews /

While the Storm Rages

Authored by Phil Earle
Published by Andersen Press

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While the Storm Rages is an exciting historical adventure story suitable for children in upper KS2.

Noah is a headstrong and disobedient young boy. His best friend, Clementine (Clem), is ‘whip smart’. Together they make a rather disorganised but very determined and loyal team. It is London, 1939. With war imminent, Noah’s beloved father enlists in the British army. Before he leaves Noah and his mother, he asks his son to keep their dog, Winn safe, telling him, ‘Knowing that the three of you are safe is all I’ll need to keep me safe’. Noah’s promise to do just this propels him and Clem on an extraordinary adventure. When Noah’s mother informs him that he is to be evacuated from London to Cornwall, and a government booklet advises people to have their pets destroyed, the two children take matters into their own hands. They decide to take their pets to Battersea Dogs’ Home joined by the school bully, Big Col and his pet python. However, when the children arrive at Battersea, they find that the home will not accept any more animals and they are advised to find a duchess, Nina Douglas-Hamilton, who has dedicated her life to saving animals and lives in Windsor. And this is exactly what the trio do, taking Noah’s father’s boat, the Queen Maudie and travelling along the river Thames. On their quest to save the animals from destruction, friendships are built, and the group encounter many obstacles.

This is an appealing and readable story, an old-fashioned adventure about children who will go to extraordinary lengths to save the animals and pets they love. It is about courage, friendship and the determination to keep promises made in extreme circumstances. Adult characters are secondary and while this is a period of history much written about in children’s literature, the adventure is original and carries the reader along. Phil Earle’s writing is beautiful, and his language choices are authentic, adding complexity to the novel.

This novel would be a good book to read aloud to a class or to share with individual children. I am sure fans of Phil Earle will very much enjoy it. It provides readers with another view of this time in British history, and many themes are touched upon which could be further explored in classes. These include evacuation, pacifism, animals in war, child abuse and the class system.

You can listen to Phil Earle talking to Nikki Gamble about While the Storm Rages in this episode of In the Reading Corner: