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Dawn of Fear [Paperback]

Susan Cooper , Margery Gill
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £3.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

Aug 2007
Derek and his friends, living outside of London during World War II, find plenty of opportunities to explore bomb craters, collect shrapnel, and identify the fighter planes that fly overhead. When a bomb hits close to school, causing classes to be cancelled, the boys are overjoyed: They can spend the day building their secret camp. But when their work on the camp is sabotaged, a tough neighboring gang is to blame. A violent clash with the rival gang-- followed by a long night of bombing close at hand-- change forever Derek's feelings about the war.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P; Reissue edition (Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152061061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152061067
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 11.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 458,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The air-raid siren went at the beginning of the afternoon, in an English lesson, while Mrs. Wilson was reading them "Children of the New Forest." Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slough's war 25 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
What first drew me to this novel was the fact that Susan Cooper is from my hometown of Slough. When I was growing up in Shaggy Calf Lane in the Seventies, the bottom of our garden still had a rusting Anderson shelter that my siblings and I never really bothered to explore. Along with the coal cellar, it seemed a part of everyday life. But times change. I still remember having a coal boiler, which went out of use as the years passed. The Anderson shelter was just a very familiar object. Much more vivid were the stories told by my great grandmother of having to dive under a kitchen table as she heard a bomb whistle to earth. Our Anderson shelter was guarded by brambles, impossible to enter, and quite uninviting.
I hadn't thought of that Anderson shelter for years until I read 'Dawn of Fear'. Very early on in the book, Cooper also introduces to us the Morrison shelter, which was designed to live under your kitchen table. However, Derek's family has use of the more famous, external Anderson shelter. Very vivid are the scenes where Derek and his family take to its cover. In one telling moment, Derek's mother says that they should stop talking lest they wake up Derek's baby brother - the little boy has already learnt to take as normal the sound of air raid sirens and bombs. During the less frantic cold war, I seem to recall hearing those chilling notes being tested once or twice. At first, it seems as though Cooper is writing this novel very much for a younger audience than her 'Dark is Rising' sequence. However, there is also much to interest the more mature reader. Particularly significant is the adults' agonising over the upbringing of their children during a war. They want their children to act with caution, but they don't want them to live in fear.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i read this book many years ago now when I was a little girl and I loved it as much - although granted with much less innocence! - as I did then. Wonderfully compelling book and one that I've bought as presents over the years to try to encourage young people to read.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slough's war 16 Dec 2000
By Mr. K. Mahoney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What first drew me to this novel was the fact that Susan Cooper is from my hometown of Slough. When I was growing up in Shaggy Calf Lane in the Seventies, the bottom of our garden still had a rusting Anderson shelter that my siblings and I never really bothered to explore. Along with the coal cellar, it seemed a part of everyday life. But times change. I still remember having a coal boiler, which went out of use as the years passed. The Anderson shelter was just a very familiar object. Much more vivid were the stories told by my great grandmother of having to dive under a kitchen table as she heard a bomb whistle to earth. Our Anderson shelter was guarded by brambles, impossible to enter, and quite uninviting.
I hadn't thought of that Anderson shelter for years until I read 'Dawn of Fear'. Very early on in the book, Cooper also introduces to us the Morrison shelter, which was designed to live under your kitchen table. However, Derek's family has use of the more famous, external Anderson shelter. Very vivid are the scenes where Derek and his family take to its cover. In one telling moment, Derek's mother says that they should stop talking lest they wake up Derek's baby brother - the little boy has already learnt to take as normal the sound of air raid sirens and bombs. During the less frantic cold war, I seem to recall hearing those chilling notes being tested once or twice. At first, it seems as though Cooper is writing this novel very much for a younger audience than her 'Dark is Rising' sequence. However, there is also much to interest the more mature reader. Particularly significant is the adults' agonising over the upbringing of their children during a war. They want their children to act with caution, but they don't want them to live in fear. But the war has already changed their lives, whether it is in the collection of shrapnel, or the playing of imaginary wargames.
However, Derek and his friends seem to be far more interested in the act of creating their own camp. Their inspiration is drawn from the ancient fortifications of the Chilterns and the Thames Valley. To Derek and his friends, it's just going to be a secret camp. But the role of such forts in the past comes to haunt them as everything they have built is threatened. Together, Derek and his friends decide to retaliate and embark on nothing less than a territorial war with a rival gang. Cooper cleverly juxtaposes this conflict against the real war. How easy it is to take up arms against your 'neighbours'. Like the real war, the rival gang seems to have way more resources and bodies to call upon, and in the shocking demise of the cat, they show early signs of psychopathic tendencies. If you're able and willing to harm an animal, current thinking goes, then you're not far from harming people.
Derek's gang has a hero of sorts in Tom Hicks. He's an older boy who's just signed up in the Merchant Navy just because they can take people younger. Here, Susan Cooper's historical research shines subtly through. Tom Hicks signs up even though he knows that the Merchant Navy is by far the most hazardous service, and where fatalities are high. Cooper is also subtle in her suggestion that all the boys will be touched by death: Geoffrey proudly mentions that his uncle is serving on the destroyer, HMS Hood, little knowing, as we do, that this ship and most of her crew are doomed. Tom also talks a great deal about Churchill's Dunkirk speech. But there's also a quote from Queen Victoria: "We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not speak." The Empress, of course, was referring to a far less noble British cause: the war for Boer gold in South Africa, where we unfortunately invented the concentration camp. Both sides, Cooper seems to be suggesting, have blood on their hands.
To me, it seems as though a part of this world has vanished for good. When nettles sting Derek, Peter suggests that he rubs a dock leaf on the rash to alleviate the pain. That sort of knowledge about the natural world was practically lost to my generation. If I'd known about dock leaves, I might have saved myself a great deal of pain as a kid. It's hard to say where exactly in Slough Cooper has set her story. I can't help but think of Elliman Avenue. Then again, that was fairly close to my own childhood home. So to me, the world of Susan Cooper's novel is a familiar place, but there are a number of extraordinary revelations. This may be a children's novel, but the conclusion shows signs of a more adult view of the world all too soon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reality of fear 21 April 2008
By Raymond Mathiesen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Derek and his friends Peter and Geoffrey all live on Everett Avenue, in a small town outside London. World War Two rages about them, particularly in the sky, but that side of life seems like only an interesting adventure. Really the boys are most interested in their own private play-world of hideouts and feuds with a rival gang. But more and more this play-world parallels the outer world, and steadily Derek becomes aware of fear: fear of fighting, fear of defeat.

In this excellent book Cooper has managed, on the one hand, to write a story simple enough for children to understand, yet on the other hand, accurately portray the complex psychological issues of war. War is neither glorified, nor derider. What comes through this story is the serious reality of fear and suffering, while at the same time facing the need to sometimes fight for what is right. For those of us have lived without the reality of war on our doorstep this book serves to educate us, though it is not in any way preachy or moralistic. Cooper tempts our interest with an excellent writing style and an appealing plot. Although the events described are now more than half a century old this book has a timeless, universal quality expressed in the theme of 'childhood innocence lost'.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think this book is spectacular 22 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I liked Dawn of Fear for three reasons.One reason I liked this book is because I lerned something in life.The thing I learned was that you should cherish the things in life that you have and don't let them go away. Another thing I learned is that many people die in a war.War is something that we should all try to avoid.After all we are going to be adults in our world in a few years.This book is for kind of people who like to read about war.
5.0 out of 5 stars The reality of fear 22 April 2008
By Raymond Mathiesen - Published on Amazon.com
Derek and his friends Peter and Geoffrey all live on Everett Avenue, in a small town outside London. World War Two rages about them, particularly in the sky, but that side of life seems like only an interesting adventure. Really the boys are most interested in their own private play-world of hideouts and feuds with a rival gang. But more and more this play-world parallels the outer world, and steadily Derek becomes aware of fear: fear of fighting, fear of defeat.

In this excellent book Cooper has managed, on the one hand, to write a story simple enough for children to understand, yet on the other hand, accurately portray the complex psychological issues of war. War is neither glorified, nor derider. What comes through this story is the serious reality of fear and suffering, while at the same time facing the need to sometimes fight for what is right. For those of us have lived without the reality of war on our doorstep this book serves to educate us, though it is not in any way preachy or moralistic. Cooper tempts our interest with an excellent writing style and an appealing plot. Although the events described are now more than half a century old this book has a timeless, universal quality expressed in the theme of 'childhood innocence lost'.
5.0 out of 5 stars The reality of fear 21 April 2008
By Raymond Mathiesen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Derek and his friends Peter and Geoffrey all live on Everett Avenue, in a small town outside London. World War Two rages about them, particularly in the sky, but that side of life seems like only an interesting adventure. Really the boys are most interested in their own private play-world of hideouts and feuds with a rival gang. But more and more this play-world parallels the outer world, and steadily Derek becomes aware of fear: fear of fighting, fear of defeat.

In this excellent book Cooper has managed, on the one hand, to write a story simple enough for children to understand, yet on the other hand, accurately portray the complex psychological issues of war. War is neither glorified, nor derider. What comes through this story is the serious reality of fear and suffering, while at the same time facing the need to sometimes fight for what is right. For those of us have lived without the reality of war on our doorstep this book serves to educate us, though it is not in any way preachy or moralistic. Cooper tempts our interest with an excellent writing style and an appealing plot. Although the events described are now more than half a century old this book has a timeless, universal quality expressed in the theme of 'childhood innocence lost'.
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