Caption: Some Year 8 Carnegie Book Club members looking at WW1 objects with Mrs McAllister, Librarian
We've started this year's Carnegie Book club by reading Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders. The author has taken the characters from the classic book Five Children and It and taken them forward to 1914, when World War 1 breaks out. The boys join up, the girls try to play their part by becoming nurses, despite parental resistance. Young people fall in love – but have they any chance of life or true happiness? The Psammead, an ancient wish-granting sand fairy, has come back into their lives and the children still love him. But can magical wishes have any effect in the face of war? And what about terrible things that the Psammead has done, in ancient times – how can he ever atone for them? "It's all about morality, really" said a book club member, and we thought that the war leaders, and maybe everyone, has to learn the same lessons that the Psammead eventually learns about the human cost of tyranny.
We borrowed an object box from Enfield Museum service, with artefacts from Enfield in WW1 including a photo of a young man in soldier's uniform, plus a postcard sent from siblings "To Our Brother" at the Front. There was also a Queen Mary's Christmas tin from 1914, and an engraved shell case. These elements come into the novel, as the close family come to terms with their siblings being in this extraordinary and dangerous situation. It is poignant to realise that real families in this area experienced all this. The Epilogue of the book, set in 1930, closes with a child asking about wars "Do you think there could ever be another one?"
Next week we move on to talk about One by Sarah Crossan.