An excellent, exciting story teller, Nina Bawden is probably best known for 'Carrie's War', which drew on her own evacuation during the Second World War.
Re-reading this for the British Books Challenge, I wondered whether I would enjoy it as much as I did as a child. I was not disappointed!
'Carrie's War' is a great read in many ways. Firstly, it is the story of evacuees during the Second World War. Carrie and her younger brother, Nick, are sent to a Welsh town where they stay with Mr Evans and his sister, over their grocer's shop. Mr Evans is a harsh, bullying man, but his sister is kind and loving and the children call her Auntie Lou.
Initially unhappy in their new life, the children do settle and start to explore their new surroundings. At Druid's Bottom, they visit Mr Evan's other sister and meet her housekeeper, Hepzibah Green, Mister Johnny and another evacuee, Albert Sandwich.
The different locations are vividly described- the stifling atmosphere of the shop and the rigidity of life with Mr Evans contrasting with the freedom of Druid's Bottom.
The story is also full of strong characters. Nick is an open book, wearing his heart on his sleeve; Carrie more reserved, taking her time to make judgements. Mister Johnny with his strange speech and ways shows us that differences need not be frightening. Hepzibah's wise ways and common sense allow the children to consider, reflect and develop. It is a story about growing up, learning to trust others, making choices- and learning from mistakes.
'Carrie's War' is a poignant and beautiful read- and I'm so glad I decided to re-read it for the British Books Challenge!
Amongst the other books Nina Bawden wrote for children are 'The Peppermint Pig' and another of my favourites, 'Off the Road'. I will now have to re-read that too!
Carrie's War by Nina Bawden
Puffin ISBN: 978-0141354903