Friday, 28 February 2020

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th February 2019: "A Cake for the Gestapo" by Jacqueline King, illustrated by Isla Bousfield-Donohoe (Zuntold)

My goodness, this book hit like a bomb dropped from a Stuka Dive Bomber. This week's Chapter Book of the week is the utterly gripping and fantastic "A Cake for the Gestapo" by Jacqueline Hill, with cover and illustrations from Isla Bousfield-Donohoe.

Set against the backdrop of the German invasion of the Channel Islands during the early part of World War 2, this is the mesmerising tale of how one plucky group of youngsters ran their own covert operations against the might of the German army. The unlikely friendship of four very different kids, Joe, Spinner, Clem and Ginger, sees a grand plan emerge as fear grips the islanders of Jersey, completely cut off from the mainland and relying on their own wits and tenacity to survive.

The kids decide to pool their cunning and their meagre resources to stage a subversive secret war against German forces, disrupting and tricking the soldiers until salvation can arrive.

Key to their plan is the elimination of a nefarious Gestapo officer, Viktor, a devilish man who will stop at nothing to crush the spirits of the islanders until they are entirely submissive.

When this book turned up I managed to nab it before C got to it, and with the full intention of only browsing through a chapter or two before handing it over, I realised it was 2 AM and I could not stop reading. Now we've both read it, we both absolutely love this book - instantly feeling fresh and so tautly written that it's impossible to resist.

As a huge, huge fan of "The Machine Gunners" (which the book has been likened to), I got right into the mindset of these kids who at first play fairly innocent pranks and tricks on the Nazi menace, before realising that they can do far more - and perhaps may even be pivotal to helping the islanders organised and provide their own resistance movement. I particularly loved Percy and Ginger's characters, both evolving throughout the story and finding their own inner strength and tenacity is boosted by their own belief in doing the right thing.

Rightly, the story doesn't shy away from describing in great detail the sort of conditions ordinary everyday folk would have had to put up with during the occupation of the Channel Islands - the only part of Britain successfully invaded by the Germans during WWII. Here then is one heck of a beltingly brilliant novel weaving in real-life anecdotal stories of what locals in Jersey, Guernsey and Sark did to disrupt the Nazi menace.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A mesmerising account of the channel island occupation told from the perspective of a plucky gang of kids who waged their own secret war against the Germans, utterly and completely unmissable.

"A Cake for the Gestapo" by Jacqueline King and Isla Bousfield-Donohoe is out on 2nd March 2019, published by Zuntold (kindly supplied for review).