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The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk [Paperback]

Louise Borden , Michael Foreman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jan 2010
In May 1940, many countries in Europe were at war with Nazi Germany. Half a million British and French soldiers were trapped on three sides in northern France by German troops and tanks. The only escape for the Allied army was the sea. An incredible armada of over 800 craft, including Royal Navy ships and a flotilla of small river and coastal boats, thereafter known as "the little ships", was assembled on the south-eastern coast of England. They sailed across the English Channel to Dunkirk in France to rescue the beseiged troops. The wide Dunkirk beach was covered with men who were hungry and thirsty, with horses running loose from their French riders, with dozens of barking dogs, with trucks and equipment - the disarray of an army on the run.

In her vivid and deeply moving text, Louise Borden tells the story of one small fishing craft from Deal that was part of the armada. It is told from the point of view of a young girl who donned her brother's old clothes and sailed with her father on the family boat, the Lucy. The story of that incredible venture is part truth, part fiction. It could have happened.

Michael Foreman, who as a boy during World War II lived in a small fishing town on the English coast, has created remarkable pictures that, together with Louise Borden's spare and dramatic text and an interesting introductory note by Christopher Dreyer, who commanded the Royal Navy ship MTB 102 in the armada, bring vividly alive this historic rescue in which over 300,000 men were saved.

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The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk + The Lion and the Unicorn + Rose Blanche
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Product details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847800815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847800817
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 25.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


I must also mention the welcome reissue in January of Foreman's The Little Ships which has been out of print for some time and has been sorely missed. Written by Louise Borden in a poetic style, this is a moving account for children of all ages of the evacuation of Dunkirk. (Marylin Brocklehurst Bookseller )

Their dramatic and touching story is vivdly brought to life in this atmospheric picture book with poetic style writing and animated illustrations. (Primary Times )

Stunning watercolour illustrations bring this piece of history to dramatic life. (Angels and Urchins )

A fascinating book and a welcome reissue. (Carousel )

The striking and evocative text is equally matched with the distinctive and powerful illustrations from Michael Foreman. (School Librarian )

About the Author

Louise Borden graduated from Denison University with a degree in history. For several years she taught young children and later was part owner of a bookshop in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to writing children's books, she also speaks to students about the writing process. She has written a number of picture books, including Just in Time for Christmas, illustrated by Ted Lewin, The Watching Game, illustrated by Teri Weidner, and, with co-author Mary Kay Kroeger, Paperboy, illustrated by Ted Lewin. Louise lives with her family in Terrace Park, Ohio.

Michael Foreman trained at the Lowestoft Art School, St. Martin's School of Art, and the Royal College of Art in London. He has illustrated numerous books for children and has also written and illustrated many books of his own, including War Game, a moving Christmas story based on a true incident in World War I, and War Boy, an account of his own childhood in England, which was one of The New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books of 1990 and winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. Michael lives in Putney.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story for all ages. 5 July 2011
"The Little Ships" is a combination of fact and fiction. It takes an all to real event, the evacuation of Dunkirk and portrays it through the eyes of a fictional child. The book is written by Louise Borden, who has written a number of books I would call "historical fiction for children", for want of a better word. She also written about such real life heroes as The Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, and Bessie Coleman. The illustrator, Michael Foreman will be more familiar as the illustrator of many Michael Morpurgo Books. The combination of Borden's expertly written text in the first person and Foreman's lifelike illustrations make you feel as if you are actually present, during the evacuation and witnessing events as they unfold.

We never learn the name of the main character in this story, a young girl who dresses in her brothers old clothes to help her father on their small fishing boat as they join the rag tag armada, dubbed "The Cockleshell Fleet", going to rescue as many British soldiers as time will allow and bring them home. The young girl is especially hoping her brother will be among those waiting for safe passage home, but I do not want to give away too much of the story itself. I will say this, both of my sons, ages 2 & 6 sat wide eyed through the reading of this. To my surprise, my husband turned down the volume on the television and came over and sat beside us, seemingly as wrapped up in the story as the children. The only interruption was as the boys scanned each illustration, carefully checking the insignia of the aircraft, hoping to see their beloved Spitfires. To their disappointment, the only aircraft visible bear the iron cross, and one can almost hear the howl of stuka as the planes dive toward the little ships below.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spellings needed correcting 5 Mar 2010
A well told story told from the point of view of a boy whose father owned one of the ships that sailed from Deal, via Ramsgate, to Dunkirk. Great illustrations, but why not have English spellings instead of American ones? For me this spoils the book. It's a shame as it wouldn't have taken much to correct things for a U.K audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book 7 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A lovely book, read with a class of 7-8yr olds. They were fascinated by the descriptions and moved by the story. One they enjoyed reading over again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Little Ships 15 Oct 2010
The book had my year two children rivetted to their seats. I used this as part of our WWII topic. It was one of the few books suitable for this age group, however, I feel it would transfer to older children. My children particularly enjoyed the illustrations.The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk
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5.0 out of 5 stars great pressie for a boy 6 Dec 2013
By Flower
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My 8 year old son loved this. He is a reluctant reader but this captivated him and he read from cover to cover. Wonderfully illustrated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous resource 6 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Studying World War II with upper key stage two we looked in deatil at the facts about the 'little ships' of Dunkirk. This book is a fabulous resource to back up the work we did in Literacy and Art using watercolours to portray the scenes that unfolded.
An amazing book!
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