Wave Me Goodbye is the first Jacqueline Wilson / Nick Sharratt book that I have read although my daughter has already read and loved many of them. We read this one together, taking it in turns to read aloud, and we found it really hard to put the book down at the end of each chapter. Set in World War Two it tells the story of Shirley and her experiences as an evacuee who is sent to the country.
The Story: Ten year old Shirley is being evacuated out of London and after a long train ride she arrives in the village of Meadow Ridge where she is billeted with Mrs Waverley and her maid, Chubby. Two more evacuees, Kevin and Archie, are also staying with them and together they must all adapt to living together and their new life in the country.
Mrs Waverley and Chubby live a reclusive life, they both have secrets and sorrows that explain their behaviour. Mrs Waverley is rich and not in the best of health but does her best to provide Shirley and the boys with the material possessions they need. Chubby is a fabulous cook although Shirley is devastated when she learns what Chubby has put in one of her delicious pies.
New friendships, old rivalries, homesickness, adapting to life in a new household and going to the village school are some of the experiences that the children have to adapt to. There’s also the quietness of the country, unfamiliar animals and the differing attitudes of the villagers.
Shirley is a likeable heroine and we were totally absorbed by her experiences, her thoughts and her insecurities. Despite initial misgivings she slowly settles into her new life and develops a relationship with Mrs Waverley. However, it’s not all plain sailing and an incident with one of Mrs Waverley’s special possessions leads to Shirley and Kevin taking desperate measures to avoid punishment.
As well as being an entertaining, action packed story Wave Me Goodbye portrays a vivid picture of the experiences of an evacuee and the preparations made before Churchill’s declaration of war. It introduced my daughter to curfews, gas masks, food rationing and the experiences that evacuees had. It also explores the emotional and psychological effects of war, one of the children wets the bed and Mrs Waverley is grieving for her dead husband. The roles that Shirley’s parents play as part of the war effort, a soldier and a factory worker are also woven into the story.
A page of pictures before the beginning of each chapter introduces the main events for that chapter. It adds to the intrigue and gave us the opportunity to talk about what we thought would happen next in the story.
We really enjoyed reading Wave Me Goodbye and by the end we really cared about all the characters. The story had a very quiet ending, we’re wondering if there may potentially be a sequel to Shirley’s story…
Age Range: 8 +
Do you have a favourite Jacqueline Wilson story? Which of her books do you recommend we read next?