Very pleased to get a glowing review from the Historical novel society to appear in their magazine this month. These guys take historical fiction very seriously and they keep tabs on everything, so their review carry a lot of authority. I'm particularly thrilled with the reviewer's summing up,
"Children of 10 -14 would love this, and it gives an invaluable insight into what it is like to be caught up in violent political upheaval – as relevant today as ever."
I'm really interested in engaging children in understanding conflict. Children are interested in what they see on the news, in what's going on in Syria. They are making connections and links all the time and trying to make sense of the world. They are often more humane than adults. On the way home from school today my daughter saw a homeless man bunking up in a doorway and she asked me if he was a Syrian refugee. When I explained to her that he was homeless, she said it was bad that a rich country like ours didn't have enough homes for everyone. Then she said if the Syrians did get here, "we better make sure we build some places for them to live." She speculated that at least it was peaceful here and hopefully they would feel better. And people better be nice to them! At the risk of sounding like a homily from Radio 4's "Thought for the Day", I was struck by her simple Good Samaritan approach. The same kid later threw a hissy fit when I said she couldn't have any sweets. But her impulses are fundamentally generous.
I would be really delighted if children who read Molly's Diary find parellels with today and it offers them insights into the horrors of war.
I was also glad to see the reviewer pick up on the narrative arc of Molly's emotional journey. She has to grow up quickly over the course of seven days. This is something one sees in a lot of child accounts of war. They remain children but they often sound old beyond their years. They know the importance of their testimony as eyewitnesses to history. You see it in Anne Frank, in Zlata's Diary from the siege of Sarajavo and in the recent diaries of Marah from Damascus http://www.syriadeeply.org/articles/2015/09/8342/syrian-diary-part-41/.