The BoB competition starts on Monday, March 9th, with Brown Girl Dreaming facing off against Children of the King. I have chosen which book I hope will win but it is not an easy choice and I won't be surprised if my choice bites the dust early.
Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett offers, at least, two story lines. Cecily and her older brother Jeremy accompany their mother, Heloise, to the family seat, Heron Hall, to wait out the War. Their father stays in London to do "important work". They arrive with scores of evacuee children and end up taking home 10-year-old May. Uncle Peregrine answers questions about the castle ruins on the estate by telling a story about an historical Duke's rise to power. The stories intertwine as the German assault on London begins and worsens.
May, whose audacity surprises, maddens, and delights Cecily, discovers two boys hanging around the castle ruins. Who are they? What are they doing in a centuries old ruin? Why do they speak so imperiously?
Meanwhile 14-year-old Jeremy is tortured by his inactivity. The pressure of duty - to help in the war effort, to behave nobly - makes him irritable and demanding. His mother refuses to listen to him - or to hear what he is actually saying.
I sometimes wondered for whom Hartnett wrote this book. The sophisticated language hints at so much more than it says. Hartnett offers the most insight into two characters, childish Cecily, and controlled Heloise. Cecily is the main character, although she seems to fumble along after other people. But the glimpses behind icy Heloise's composure enlarges the audience to adults who enjoy historical fiction and stately language.
I will tell you if I believe this book will rise BoB victorious in a future post. In the meantime, compare Children of the King to The War that Saved My Life for two different experiences of WWII young evacuees.