Review Blog

Jan 04 2011

Blackout by Robert Swindells

cover image

Corgi Books, 2011.
(Ages 9+) Recommended. Swindells is on top form with this fast moving World War Two adventure of spies, robbery, enemy aircraft and pesky kids who nearly perish in their attempts to solve a mystery. There is more than a touch of the Enid Blyton's in Blackout and this is why it works so well. Robert Swindells knows exactly how to entice young readers into the thrill of a gripping mystery with plenty of action, larger than life villains and feisty, intrepid children in mortal danger.
War has just been declared and the youngsters of the sleepy Welsh town of Golfodd are on the lookout for spies. A couple of mysterious visitors attract the children's attention but these villains are robbers not spies, and they plan to steal the Golfodd Hoard - a collection of ancient Roman coins that are the pride of the town.
As the story develops the children find themselves trapped in a mine, alone and desperate as no one knows their plight. Meanwhile, a German pilot crash lands nearby and hears their cries. Will he rescue them and risk certain capture, or escape and leave them to their fate?
Blackout offers plenty of learning opportunities for upper juniors - it works well as a showcase for plot construction of mystery and adventure stories. One of the characters, a hack reporter, could be ably assisted by pupils in writing up the story of the Golfodd Hoard. With an introduction to the period of World War Two, this novel will also generate plenty of interest and should attract reluctant readers too. Well worth buying to support topic boxes and to promote an enjoyable reading experience.
Claire Larson

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