Review – The Storm Dog – Holly Webb

Holly Webb is a prolific children’s author who has written over 100 books for children. Many of these are based on animals and have a smattering of history thrown in. A few of her books have caught my eye recently: The Princcess and the Suffragette and Return to the Secret Garden (both sequels to much-loved classics). However, I have never before read one of her titles. In all honesty, the books didn’t appeal to my tastes. That said, I am on a mission to broaden my knowledge of children’s literature so took a punt on this newly published title.

Tilly is a off to her Gran’s for Christmas and has a big project about the Second World War to complete which her Great-Gran (also called Tilly) has promised to help with. Full of enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, Tilly sets off on the train journey by herself. On the way, she falls asleep only to wake up in her Great-Gran’s past. She is now being evacuated with her two younger brothers. There the family are taken in by Mr Thomas, a farmer, where Tilly forms a special bond with sheepdog Tarran.

One of the key elements of the narrative is the portrayal of life as an evacuee. As I’ve written before Emma Carroll’s Letters from the Lighthouse sets out an evacuee’s experiences brilliantly for older primary aged children. Storm Dog, on the other hand, is one of the best examples I’ve seen that introduces younger children to this chapter in our history. It is definitely a book that I would recommend teachers investigate if they are covering the war in Lower Key Stage 2.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is a heart-warming and enchanting Christmas tale, which will appeal to many a child. It is an accessible reader for maturing readers starting out with chapter books (as children in school like to call them), but also a book that is ready to be shared. As a parent, I can see myself reading this to my daughter when she is a few years older. You never know, it could become a family classic like The White Hippo did when I was a boy.

Age Recommendation: 7+
Pages: 192 pages
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
ISBN: 9781847157935

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