Noted children's writer/illustrator Michael Foreman recaptures his childhood in wartime England in this charming, evocative book, a 1989 relase from Arcade Publishing. It offers a captivating look-back at a time and a place now far gone.
Foreman grew up in Pakefield, a fishing vilage on the coast of Suffolk. This area saw its share of air action during the war, bombing raids making up several drawings in WAR BOY. (An incendiary bomb actually went through his house). Foreman's illustrations of those raids - the AAA guns firing off, incendiaries burning in the street and German aircraft sweeping overheard - bring the war to vivid life. Yet other images show children playing in a shelter, a stretch of beach once a playground for residents now mined and blocked off with barbed wire, customers 'having a cuppa' at his mother's shop, barrage balloons floating in the sky, military parades, the arrival of the first Yanks and so on. The book ends with the ghostly image of an English youngster dressed as a native American and the evocative words that "the memory of those who passed through our village on the way to war will remain for ever with the ghosts of us children in the fields and woods of long ago."
In many ways, WAR BOY is a priceless treasure. Its vivid imagery and poignant commentary presents a fascinating and heartfelt portrait of wartime England. Highly recommended.