The Children of the King

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2014

By Sonya Hartnett, Reviewed by Nicole Cooper

The Children of the King book cover
The Children of the King, by Sonya Hartnett;
Candlewick Press: Somerville, Massachusetts,
2014; $16.99

It is too dangerous to stay in London. The threat of bombs falling overhead is constant, and now that France has fallen, Cecily’s parents are getting worried. So they decide to send Cecily and her brother Jeremy (along with their mother) to their Uncle Peregrine’s house until it’s “safe” enough.

Although Cecily is perfectly happy to stay with her favorite uncle, Jeremy is frustrated. He feels like he’s not a child anymore at the age of fourteen and should help with the war. He wants to do anything, anything to help, which leads to reckless decisions later on.

If you haven’t realized it yet, it’s World War II, and reckless decisions can end you up in situations you don’t want to be in. Especially when you are on the battlefield, and your only decision is to kill—or be killed.

This isn’t the first book I have read about World War II, and it certainly won’t be the last. How can I read about such horrible times? How do I stand to listen to those terrifying stories? Because these stories are in my blood.

My mom grew up in the Soviet Union. As you can expect, so did her parents, my grandparents. So did my great-grandparents. Yes. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side, two of whom are alive now, lived in the Soviet Union during World War II. To top it off, they were Jewish, and they were each very young then, high-schoolers at most. As you can expect, they each had their very own interesting story that happened during that time.

One of my great-grandfathers fled to a safer part of the country, where he finished school and started going to the university when he was only sixteen. My great-grandmothers also fled to different parts of the country, where they could be safe and sound from the Nazis. Meanwhile, my other great-grandfather, who was only eighteen, got automatically signed up to fight in the war. He doesn’t tell anyone what happened during those times, but I can only imagine how horrible it was.

I read these stories so I can know what was happening on other sides of the globe during this dreadful period of time. Stories of bombs, murder, and loss, but they are connected to me, and all of us, through our blood. We must know our history.

During this time, many children got separated from their parents. May was one of these children. She was sent alone to the countryside, to be taken as part of a new family until it was safe enough for her to go home. She was an evacuee, and if she wasn’t taken by a family, who knows what would have happened to her.

So it’s lucky for her that Cecily spots her and decides that she would make a good friend. They take May to their home, and everyone quickly adapts to the new lifestyle. Well, except for Jeremy. He still feels helpless in the war and doesn’t like the feeling.

Then one day, Jeremy runs off to London. With no one knowing where he was, when he was coming back, or if he was even safe, the two girls got worried, and not only about him. Would he come back? And who were the two boys hiding in the woods?

This was a wonderful book, and the thrill it gave me as I read it was also. I’d recommend it to anyone, anywhere.

The Children of the King Nicole Cooper

Nicole Cooper, 11
Urbana, Illinois

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