Sunday, September 11, 2016

Vinnie's war by David McRobbie

When I read The War that saved my life I was browsing through our school library catalogue exploring the subject headings we had assigned to this excellent book.  I clicked on the subject World War, 1939-1945 - Evacuation of civilians - Fiction.  I know this is quite a narrow subject but it was worth exploring because it led me to twelve books in our library including Vinnie's War which is the perfect book to read after The War that saved my life.  I read Vinnie's war yesterday all in one sitting.  One of the things I enjoyed in this book is the inclusion of posters, ration cards, advertisements and newspaper articles from this period in history at the start of each chapter. Oddly I could not find any further details about these pages such as a reference or source list. I have included one at the end of this post.

Vinnie lives in London with him mum - "there had been no father in Vinnie's life."  When he was eleven Vinnie's mum died.  Vinnie is taken in by Aunt Vera but she is not his aunt and life in her home is unbearable.  Vinnie finds himself a job in a local pub and there he finds the family he has longed for.  The Rosen's take in a Jewish boy called Isaac.  Vinnie fears he will be kicked out.

"It was settled over breakfast.  Vinnie would keep working in the pub, but better still, he and Isaac could share the spare bedroom upstairs."

Isaac becomes a truly wonderful friend to Vinnie, especially when he teaches Vinnie to play the piano then one night the unspeakable happens.  Vinnie is away on an errand for Mr Rosen.  Bombs are falling all over London and one destroys the pub and his new family.

Vinnie is now sent to the small country village of Netterfold.  On the train, Vinnie makes three important friends.  Sister and brother Kathleen and Joey and Dobroslaw Szsczepanski better known as Dobbs.  Vinnie is sent to live with a reclusive former concert pianist.  Kathleen and Joey are placed with a greedy woman who just wants their ration cards. Dobbs finds a place in the local shop.  You can probably guess the happy experiences in store for Vinnie and you will cheer as Kathleen and Joey find a way to put a stop to mean and criminal ways of Mrs Watney and her son Dennis.

Here is a detailed set of teaching notes from the publisher.

If you want to do some wide reading about the experiences of evacuated children here is a selection of titles in our school library.

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