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The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk Paperback – 7 Jan 2010
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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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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.
There is sadness in this story, which is unavoidable, but no direct mention of death, only a reference to some who "would not be coming home". The illustrations show smoke and flames and bandages, but nothing especially gory, so I do believe this book is acceptable for children. I think this book gives children a sense of national pride, and of respect without being terrifying, and strikes a very good balance in just how much to show. I also think history becomes much more real and memorable to children when presented as a story. It makes history alive and exciting rather than stuffy and boring as many describe history classes. This book wins my full recommendation.
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