on 30 June 2014
The praise expressed in the reviews above and below is by no means an exaggeration of this author's skill and talent. Aimed at a teenage audience, it hits the bull's-eye on every page. In my O Level days the most important and evocative works on the First World War were from the likes of Wilfred Owen. This little gem is as important, in my view, and an absolute must for young pupils following the present school history syllabus. `Valentine Joe' is a valuable history lesson but in some marvellous feat of juggling also manages to be a ghost story, a romance and a romping adventure rolled into one. And all delivered with such a lightness of touch. It is an absolute delight as an adult read and, it wouldn't surprise me, a memorable treasure for our children and grandchildren. I hope Ms Stevens' agent is working hard to sell the film rights because this book really does knock the socks off `Warhorse' (all four of `em).
on 5 September 2014
Though aimed at a target audience 25 years older than I am, I really loved this book! We meet 14 year old Rose and her grandfather who are travelling to Ypres to visit ancestors’ war graves, the day before Valentine’s Day. Rose has lost her father at the age of 38 only a year earlier; we are never told whether it was a sudden death, an accident or illness which may have explained how she reacted to the situation. Her mum is stuck in grief as is Rose; though we don’t get to understand the grandfather’s feelings regarding the death of his son.
We read about the adventures of Rose and to a lesser extent her granddad Brian, all mixed in with a love story, realisation of the horrors of war, time travel and self-discovery. I will be going to Ypres for the Kattenstoet (Festival of the Cats) next year and will look up some of the places Rose visited. The time travel element is skilfully handled, leaving the reader to decide for themselves the actual mechanics of it. Wonderfully written and evocatively described. I just love Tommy.
The reason I haven’t given it a full 5 stars is that the use of the nickname “Cabbage” (Yes, we have all heard of cabbage roses, we get it!) was just too repetitive and too much for me.
The lovely twist at the end is just fantastic. This is a keeper and one I will read again. 4.75 stars.
on 3 May 2014
I saw this book soon it was published and on a spare of the moment decided to purchase it. There was something about it, it looked mysterious, intriguing and with 2014 commemorating the beginning of the First World War it seems very poignant - significant.
From the moment I turned the first page I knew I was right in choosing this book. It begins in the modern day - this year in fact - and young Rose goes to Belgium with her delightful grandad so that they can visit his uncle's war grave. While at the peaceful cemetery Rose finds a grave with many flowers around it but it is the name that stands out to her the most - Valentine Joe (aged 15). She feels for Joe this young lad who fought in the terrible war. She places some celandines from the pathway nearby on his grave, thinking of him. Later back in Ypres Rose starts to see strange things taking place, almost like the past coming back to life, and that night in the hotel where she us staying she witnesses young soldiers marching in the square, and at the back of the group is a boy with a cheeky lovable smile, wearing celandines.
Filled with adventure and heartfelt moments this book is a page turner. I did not want to put the book down. The characters are real as is the setting - the descriptions given here are brilliant and creates a vivid picture for the readers to form in their minds. This is a great story for kids (aged 10 and above) to read and learn about the events of the First World War through Rose's extraordinary story and the life of Valentine Joe.
One of the best wartime novels I have read and one of the best emotional heartfelt stories that I feel privileged to have come across.
on 1 June 2014
i reallly enjoyed reading this book i draws you in and you feel like that it was very real , the story was sad but you can relate to the writers story and to peoples past , the only thing i would say its more of an adults book rather than a childs book
on 24 May 2014
I read this book in one go, What a fabulous breath of fresh air this book is .Aimed at a young market it is a ghost story, a love story, an adventure story and a War story all in one and a insight into a time and place sadly many today are unaware of. I have been to Ypres many times and had the added enjoyment of recognising the places mentioned.I really enjoyed this book and am so glad i found it. Next time i visit i will look for Joe's grave.To cap it all it stars a Granddad and that is what i am. Get this book... and let your kids read it. Ten stars. A classic.
on 6 August 2014
A lovely book, with a authentic heart felt plot. Every child and adult for that mater, like myself, should read this. I really enjoyed it, taking me hauntingly into the past and WW 1, a trip that will stay with me when I think of Valentine's Day. Thank you Rebecca Stevens for this work, God bless you as you have blessed me amen x
on 23 August 2014
I loved this book and would have liked it to have been much longer.a very appropriate and thought provoking story,perfect for remembering the first world war.very glad that I bought it.perfect for younger readers as it will encourage theme to ask questions and find out more for themselves.
Valentine Joe is a poignant look at the First World War and the impact it had on soldiers, families and the world as a whole. It's a short read but one that has a strong impact and stays in your head even after you've finished, ensuring that Valentine Joe's very real story will never be forgotten.
Fourteen-year-old Rose visits Ypres with her grandad to visit the many graves situated there. Rose is still recovering from the death of her beloved father, and life is anything but easy for her. Visiting Ypres opens her eyes to what the Great War was like and how horrific it truly was, especially when she finds herself taken back in time and meeting fifteen-year-old soldier Valentine Joe. Rose's life will never be the same again, as Joe helps her with her grief and shows her that life really is for living.
Rebecca Stevens writes with such respect and understanding that it's hard not to get pulled in to Valentine Joe. Her author's note at the end, the fact that Valentine Joe was real and even the dedication page at the beginning brought me to tears and made me vow to learn more about WWI. My war knowledge is mostly WWII based but reading this book has made me want to know more about the brave soldiers who gave their lives between 1914-1918, and the generations of men that were all but wiped out.
The premise of Valentine Joe is an interesting one, and obviously the subject is very topical given that this year marks one hundred years since the outbreak of WWI. I wish this book could have been longer and more fleshed out, but as it stands it's sparse and probably more hard-hitting because of it. I'd also love to have known how Rose actually manages to be transported back to this period in history, but it's nice that the reader can come up with their own theories.
Anyone with an interest in war fiction will enjoy Valentine Joe and I hope it reaches an audience with children. It's a great starting point to get a discussion going and will give a not too detailed insight into what it was like to fight and live through those years. I'd love Rebecca Stevens to write more about WWI in the future, so here's hoping she hasn't ruled it out!
on 28 July 2014
Wow! Just read the book in one sitting and found it thoroughly captivating! I could not put it down!
Pity I have retired from teaching as it would be a fantastic book to read to a class. Brilliant!
on 23 August 2014
A BEAUTIFUL-YET TRAGIC TALE OF TIME TRAVEL-WAR AND IT HAS TO BE SAID JUST THE RIGHT DOSE OF SPIRITUALISM.So many books in the teenage/young reader market for me as someone of middle years are superb,and like much of childrens tv drama blow away anything i am meant to watch and read!....I DON'T WANT TO GIVE ANYTHING AWAY BUT IF YOU LOVE A BIT OF ROMANCE!!!AND TO THINK REBECCA STEVENS HAS WRITTEN THIS FANTASTIC STORY OF JUST 150 PAGES,WHEN SO MANY AUTHORS TRY AND FAIL AFTER SEVERAL HUNDRED..MAKE VALENTINE JOE A LITTLE CLASSIC..AND WITH A BIT OF LUCK CBBC WILL DO THE RIGHT THING AND TURN THIS INTO A FILM!!!LOVED IT...VIA AMAZON U.K.