Tuesday, March 01, 2022

The Runaways by Holly Webb and Knight's Castle by Edward Eager

Both of these books are middle grade and (surprise!) I read an e-book! You know how often that happens. 

The Runaways by Holly Webb is a WWII story about a young London girl whose mother refuses to evacuate her to the countryside when war is coming. She is a widow and wants to keep her remaining family (two children, one of whom is a teenager) close and needs help running her shop. 

Molly is already upset about her friends leaving when she finds out her mum is going to have the dog and cat put to sleep in preparation for possible bombing. So she packs up, takes the animals, and runs away. 

The cat gets out of her basket and runs back home (which naturally gave the cat lover in me anxiety) but Molly continues on with the dog and eventually comes across two children who are also runaways but from an abusive home. The three travel together until they find a place to settle. But, even that may not end up well. 

Recommended - I thought The Runaways was a very good story, although the writing was occasionally a bit awkward. The occasional awkward sentence, though, certainly wasn't enough to stop the momentum. I felt like you really got a feel for the hunger, the dirt, the grief, and the general horror of war in The Runaways and I'll be watching for more by Holly Webb. 

Knight's Castle by Edward Eager is an older book, the second in the "Tales of Magic" series, copyrighted in 1956. It sat on my wish list for many months (because of last year's book-buying ban) after I read that it was the childhood favorite of an author I admire. 

After I added the book to my wish list, I threw away the interview in which Knight's Castle was mentioned, so I have no idea who recommended it but she said she'd been waiting for it to have it's time in the sun as she thought it was better than Harry Potter. While I'm not a huge fan of Harry Potter, I tend to disagree, but I still enjoyed Knight's Castle.

Knight's Castle is the story of a boy who has a collection of toy soldiers that have been passed down through his family. The oldest one is in terrible shape but when the boy closes his hand around it and makes a wish, he's transported back in time and the way he's positioned the toy soldiers around a play castle is how they are when he materializes in this magical world and the toys become human. 

There's a whole backstory with the boy, his sister, and two cousins. The boy and his sister end up at their cousins' house because something's wrong with their father and he must urgently go to the hospital.The boy is originally transported through time when he makes his wish and then the other children eventually begin to travel back in time with him. But, his wish can't come true until he proves himself worthy. And, he's running out of time.

Recommended - While I wouldn't call Knight's Castle a favorite, I enjoyed it enough to wish I had the entire series to read. I always enjoy time travel and there's a silliness to the book that tickled me. When the soldier's talk, it's like they're trying to speak as if they live in the Middle Ages but they don't quite know how, so it's a bit gibberish and quite funny. I can definitely see how this story would have left an impression on a child. 

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