BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
We are so excited to host a Q&A with author Tom Palmer, whose latest book D-Day Dog is out this week.
Read on for a review of D-Day Dog and a giveaway for one of two copies, followed by an exclusive Q&A in which we ask Tom all about writing about history for children, his inspirational pets and what to expect from his next writing project....
Book Title: D-Day Dog (available here)
Author: Tom Palmer
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Publication Date: May 2019
Most Suitable For: KS2
Review By: Emma Rogers (@ecawemma), Senior Lecturer Primary Education
Thinking and talking about war with children is difficult. Is war exciting? Are all soldiers brave? Is playing war games violent? When is killing other people justified?
These are the sorts of questions raised by Jack, the eleven year old boy at the centre of Tom Palmer's new story, D-Day Dog. Jack's dad is a reserve soldier about to be called up to Afghanistan and Jack couldn’t be more proud. At school, the class is preparing for a trip to Normandy to visit the site of the D-Day landings and Jack is already really excited.
But as Jack learns more about war, through learning about the life of his new Syrian classmate Kasandra and reading about WW2 Private Emile Corteil and his dog Glen, he begins to question everything he thought he knew about war.
This is such an important book to read to all children who are learning about war and the impact it has on the lives of the people and animals involved. Through the voice of Jack, Tom Palmer sensitively yet unflinchingly discusses the consequences and emotions involved in warfare. Brilliantly researched, the book is full of fascinating facts which are woven together to create a truly moving and gripping read.
Dyslexia-friendly in a clear, uncluttered font, this is a must-read for all 9-12-year-olds, not just in this year on the commemoration of the D-Day landings. Reading aloud to a whole class would allow the children to discuss the plot and the questions as they are unveiled through the story. It would also work well as a read-alone book or one to read at bedtime. But, do leave time for conversations afterwards. The ideas and issues contained within this simple and compelling story are too important to gloss over.
The author has also made available additional pupil resources based on the book, downloadable from here: http://tompalmer.co.uk/dday-dog/.
with Tom Palmer, author of D-Day Dog.
Can you tell us a bit more about D-Day Dog?
It’s the story of Glen, a parachuting dog, who dropped into Normandy in the early hours of D-Day with his handler, Emile, to play their part in defeating Nazi Germany. Seen through the eyes of a modern boy who is on a school trip to the D-Day sites in France it’s about animals in war and the different ways a child can react to war.
Like in your previous story Armistice Runner, the new book cleverly connects modern day characters with events and people from the past. What do you hope your readers will take away from the links you have drawn out between past and present in D-Day Dog?
The main thing for me is that war is not just history. It is happening now and affecting children now. There is a boy in the story whose soldier dad might be about to be deployed into a war zone. There is a girl who has been forced to leave her home country and live in the UK because of war. I wanted to contrast those with the events of wars that children might study at school.
Many of your books explore history through human stories. Do you have a favourite period of history to write about?
Not really. I hope to explore other historical periods. Variety is good. But I do have a thing about Boudica that needs to come out at some point.
In D-Day Dog, animals and pets play an important role. Do you have a favourite animal?
Yes, our dog, Finn, who I lent to Jack in this book. Along with our cat, Katniss. I wrote the book because we got Finn 18 months ago and I wanted to put him in a book. Katniss already has several books in her own name.
The book also explores modern day experiences of children fleeing war and conflict. How did you research this aspect of the story?
I read books by children who have suffered the terrible war in Syria. The Girl from Aleppo by Nujeen Mustafa was one that stood out. There are so many of these stories in newspapers and on websites too, regrettably. Also, I meet children from Syria and other countries in schools every week and talk to them and their teachers a little. I touched on the story of Aylan and Galip Kurdi in my book Pitch Invasion. Aylan was the little boy whose body was washed up in the Mediterranean three or four years ago who featured heavily in news reports.
Which other children’s books are you loving right now?
I’ve enjoyed Judith Eagle, Emma Carroll and Phil Earle recently. And I’ve an ongoing passion for Rosemary Sutcliff, who is the best historical author ever in my opinion.
Can you give us any news about any upcoming books or writing projects on the horizon?
I am writing a book for Barrington Stoke about a group of orphaned children who survived the concentration camps and death marches of Nazi Europe and came to stay in the Lake District for a few months after their liberation. I am writing it with the support of the Lake District Holocaust Project (www.ldhp.org.uk) and will be meeting some of the survivors to help me try to get the book right. It’s due in July 2020.
For more from Tom, follow @tompalmerauthor on Twitter or visit http://tompalmer.co.uk.
Thanks to the publishers at Barrington Stoke, we have two copies of D-Day Dog to give away to our followers!
Many thanks to Review Panel member Emma for this review, to Tom for answering my interview questions and to the publisher for sending us a review copy of the book and providing the giveaway prizes.