... by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand - The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams.
It's 1943, and Lily Tregenza lives on a farm in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton. Apart from her father being away, and the 'townie' evacuees at school, her life is scarcely touched by the war. Until one day, Lily and her family, along with 3000 other villagers, are told to move out of their homes - lock, stock and barrel.
Soon, the whole area is out of bounds, as the Allied forces practise their landings for D-Day, preparing to invade France. But Tips, Lily's adored cat, has other ideas - barbed wire and keep-out signs mean nothing to her, nor does the danger of guns and bombs. Frantic to find her, Lily makes friends with two young American soldiers, who promise to help her. But will she ever see her cat again? Lily decides to cross the wire into the danger zone and look for Tips herself ....
Now, many years later, as Michael is reading his Grandma Lily's diary, he learns about The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips - and wonders how one adventurous cat could still affect their lives sixty years later.
..... From the inner, front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE:I first read Grandma's letter over ten year's ago, when I was twelve.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: I've seen lots of lambs born, lots of calves, and each time it surprises me how quickly they can get up and walk on their wobbly legs. What takes us a year or more, they can do inside an hour.
I don't usually read animal stories but was determined to give this one ago after falling in love with the cat (Tips) on the front cover.
A charming, well written story with an ending that had me in tears. However a bit of a disappointment in that the story was not really about Tips at all but more the story of Lily and her war time experience growing up in a small community during the second World War which saw not only the absence of many of the menfolk but also the evacuation of an entire village as well as the introduction of evacuees from the cities and towns.
Though Slapton is not a real place, this novel is based on actual events - certain parts of the English coastline "became like a huge army camp. As the invasion forces gathered and rehearsed many coastal areas had to be cleared so that simulated landings from the sea could take place" - and as such is quite a gentle way to discuss themes of war with children.
Not quite what I expected but still a good read that I'm sure would make a good drama. I recommend this in particular to anyone who enjoyed Michelle Magorian's GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM.
Ex-library stock, this was purchased at our local library.