The Wiltshires are an ordinary middle class family just before the beginning of WWII. Mum, Dad and four children are portrayed in the opening chapter as almost too cloyingly contented on their annual seaside holiday. This first chapter does not prepare the reader for the course the book will take. As the war begins and the family has to adapt, the children's secure world begins to fragment. Streatfeild's insights into the psychology of children are excellent. She makes each of these children, Laurel, Tony, Kim and Tuesday an individual who reacts to the gradual breakup of their family in their own totally realistic way. The adults in the story, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers and servants, fail the children in fundamental ways, with few exceptions. This is a moving story of the disintegration of a family in wartime. The experience of evacuees, and the consequences of children being seperated from their parents and siblings is beautifully done. Above all, the novel is well-written, full of interest and packed with characters the reader grows to care about. I loved Ballet shoes as a child, and Saplings has the same quality of observing and understanding children.