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This issue’s cover illustration by Catherine Rayner is from Solomon Crocodile. Catherine Rayner is interviewed on p.14 of this issue. Thanks to Macmillan Children's Books for their help with this May cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 194 May 2012 .
If a writer is going to set a novel in a specific historical period it is not a good sign when the reader has to suspend all belief in the plot. I am afraid this is so with this story of two refugee children, one German, one Austrian, who have arrived in England, being asked to go back to Hitler’s Germany in 1941 to kidnap a girl who is being kept in a convent, which act will supposedly shorten the war. Rebecca and Conrad, henceforth Leni and Otto, are trained for two whole weeks before being parachuted into Germany to accomplish this task. It becomes clear to them that this girl is Hitler’s daughter. They manage to rescue/kidnap Angelika, but then their troubles begin. Heydrich is personally tasked by Hitler to track the kidnappers down and flying in an early helicopter he pursues them. Fortunately their training in the use of machine guns and grenades comes in handy, even causing an avalanche and wiping out about fifty paratroopers who are in hot pursuit, this coming after they had flown a glider to escape. (Otto knows how to fly the glider from reading a book.)
The text is written in short staccato sentences, cliché-ridden – at one point Leni says ‘I’m out of ammo’. William Osborne is a Hollywood scriptwriter and this does read like a film script, but the whole thing is far too implausible. The publicity blurb states that the story is based on true facts – that Hitler had a niece and that Rudolf Hess did arrive in the United Kingdom. There is an enormous amount of really good stories for children and young people about World War II and it is a great pity that one of them has not been reprinted in this book’s place.