This book is built round fifty key things skilfully selected to help young readers begin to understand the ‘big shapes’ of a complex global war lasting six years from 1939 to 1945. Many are to do with key events including ‘The invasion of Poland’, ‘The fall of France’, ‘The war goes global’ and ‘Europe is liberated’. Others cover such things as ‘Home Front’ ( which explains something about the contribution of women to the war effort and the evacuation of children), ‘ Spies and Spying’ (covering the work of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park), ‘The Holocaust’, ‘New Weapons’, ‘The cost of war’ and ‘The post-war world’. Organised in double spreads, the pages are well designed with a clear, spare text and copious visual information using photographs and particularly fine maps. Time-lines, a glossary and index and a Who’s who picturing the nine men who led the Allies and the nine men who led the Axis powers all help with overall coherence.
Some suggestions for further reading would have been helpful to the older primary and early secondary school children and teachers for whom the resource is intended. While this book gives a succinct overall account, other books tell of the experiences of individuals, for example Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom’s Taff in the WAAF. And the ‘fiction based on facts’ kind of book, for example Michael Morpurgo’s touching novel about a young girl living in war time Devon , The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, would bring understanding to a personal level. Nevertheless this is a simply splendid resource to support a school history project. Parents would also find it useful when helping to answer children’s questions about the Second World War.