To see the name Jim Eldridge as author can only inspire confidence. Here is an author who knows how to reach young readers, with an extensive bibliography to prove it. He is comfortable with both novels and information texts. Nor does this title disappoint.
This is another valuable contribution to the growing number of books published to celebrate World War I for primary school classrooms . The production is familiar with the text broken into easily managed chunks set beside – or over – photographs and paintings from the period. Using the convention of the list allows the author to impose order on the history he describes, neatly combining events (the outbreak of the war, the battles) with topics (propaganda, rationing). Taking the war year by year adds a further level of coherence which is then enhanced by the timeline that features as each new chapter (or year) opens. A glossary helps with vocabulary that is marked in bold throughout the text and there is an index; sadly no bibliography. It would have been interesting to have young readers guided to further reading, informational and fictional.
Eldridge’s prose is very readable and succinct – occasionally too succinct. There were moments, I would have liked a little more detail. However, he is adept at introducing the intriguing nugget of information that will attract the young. It is refreshing to be offered a serious approach that is accessible at time when it is assumed that young readers can only cope if the material is relentlessly funny.
A clear, concise and very readable introduction to a complicated period that will encourage both an understanding of this cataclysmic war and a desire to learn more about it.