The Swallows’ Flight by Hilary McKay


This is a companion novel to The Skylarks’ War, but could also be read as a stand-alone book.  It’s written for young children, and isn’t even as deep as The Skylarks’ War is, but it’s not bad.  It’s set just before and during the Second World War, and there are two sets of main characters – Clarry’s goddaughters Kate (daughter of Vanessa and Peter) and Ruby, and two German boys who become Luftwaffe pilots, Erik and Hans.   Clarry and Rupert also feature.  And there’s a grandfather.  And a dog.

It’s nice to read a book featuring evacuees who actually *aren’t* from London: Ruby is evacuated from Plymouth.  Three cheers for the scriptrwriters of the new Railway Children film – the evacuees in the said film are from Salford.  Ruby and Kate, although from different backgrounds, end up becoming best friends, and their world collides with the world of the two German lads when, somewhat unconvincingly, both German lads crash-land in the English countryside and meet up with the girls.

The book tries to show that not all Germans are Nazis and that Erik and Hans don’t want to be fighting for the Third Reich.  It also touches on the Holocaust, although not particularly convincingly, and I found it odd that Hilary McKay said that that wasn’t her story to tell because she wasn’t Jewish.  It’s everyone’s story to tell, surely?

All in all, I didn’t think that it was as good as the first book, but it wasn’t bad, and the first book was so popular that I’m sure that this’ll have plenty of readers.