Review Blog

Sep 09 2009

My Secret War Diary by Flossie Albright

cover image

Walker Books, 2009.
(Ages Middle school) A beautifully bound and presented hard cover book in the form of a diary, this tactile volume is sub titled, My History of the Second World War, 1939-1945, and is a child's perspective of what happened to her and her family in Dorchester. It has all the trimmings of a young girl's diary during the middle of last century, with drawings and paintings on most pages, little cards and cut outs pasted in, warnings to any trespasser, highlighted headings and events of the war, all making this a singular account of the events of those turbulent years.
Flossie is 9, and first remarks that her father has enlisted and is off to fight Germany. She outlines the family tree showing the reader where she fits into the family, and then recounts the efforts each household must make to lessen the amount of damage that could be done to them during raids. Each page is littered with entries, observations, tales of friendships and woes, all done in a clear handwriting which may cause some of our students some problems. Behind the stories of school and home life, her dog and her family, we see the events of the war: Dunkirk, air raids, rationing, the Blitz, then VE Day.
Sometimes the pages reminded me of things I had forgotten, the folded square of paper stuck into the book, the coin rubbings, drawing little maps and sticking them into a diary, adding small cut outs from the newspaper: all done by children during the war and for some years after, a past time now long forgotten. This would be an inviting and informative book for middle school readers, those interested in the background of WW2, or how children coped during war, those viewing childhood, or those simply interested in a book beautifully presented and designed. This book will satisfy a range of interests and I can imagine students poring over some of the pages as they come to understand that Flossie had a happy childhood despite what was happening around her.
Fran Knight

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