The Storm Dog takes us back in time with Tilly who is learning about life in World War Two for a school project. Great-Gran is nearly ninety and sends Tilly a parcel which takes her back in time to give her the experience of an evacuee firsthand. We really enjoyed this story, as well as being entertaining it gave us an insight into a piece of history and the situation that many children found themselves in during the war.
The Story: Tilly is going to visit Grandma and Great-Gran for Christmas. Alone on the train she opens a parcel that Great-Gran has sent to help her with her WWII homework. Lulled into sleep by the train’s motion she goes back in time and re-lives some of Great-Gran’s childhood evacuation experiences.
Great-Gran had two younger brothers, Alfie and Eddie, and was evacuated to Mr Thomas’ Welsh farm. Tilly re-lives their experience as they settle into farm life, attend the village school, experience their first real snow and get ready for Christmas. Mr Thomas’ sheepdog, Tarran, plays a big part in the story and develops a special relationship with Tilly. It is Tarran who alerts Tilly when Mr Thomas is in danger and Tarran who helps Tilly when she gets stuck in the snow.
The Storm Dog gives a fantastic insight into the experiences of a WWII evacuee and the hardships that were faced by families during the war. Great-Gran was evacuated from Birmingham and her experiences of living in the country, tending to animals on the farm and walking miles to the village school mirror those of many evacuees. Food rationing, making ends meet, living with strangers and being miles away from family and friends are concepts that were all new to my daughter but were all beautifully woven into The Storm Dog.
We were very quickly drawn into ten year old Tilly’s adventure and love the way that Tarran, the sheepdog, plays such an important part in the children’s new lives, particularly Tilly’s. Not all children settled as well into their new life as Great-Gran and this is also acknowledged in the book. The relationship between Tilly, Alfie and Eddie is beautifully portrayed and as their relationship with Mr Thomas develops we learn that he has suffered heartbreak in the past.
The Artful Doodler’s black and white illustrations are interspersed throughout the story and introduce children to wartime fashions as well as showing the realities of an evacuee’s life. Our favourite illustrations resolve around Christmas, we love the picture of the children hanging up their stocking and the illustration that shows Mr Thomas, Tarran, Tilly and her brothers by the Christmas tree.
The Storm Dog would be a great book to include on a Key Stage Two list of books about WWII as it portrays wartime experiences in a context that children can understand. It also introduces wartime words, e.g. billeting officer, evacuated, wireless which can help to stimulate discussions about historical periods.
Christmas is a feature of the story and this sturdy little hardback is the perfect size for a Christmas stocking!
Age Range: 8 +
Thank you to Stripes for sending The Storm Dog. We thoroughly enjoyed reading it and couldn’t put it down!