Monday, July 11, 2016

The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II

I've always been fascinated by the story of the British troops successful retreat from Dunkirk that only happened with the help of civilian boats and ships that risked it all to bring home the troops trapped at Dunkirk. It is a complicated tale to tell to children and once again Louise Borden tackles it quite effectively with a fictionalized account of a girl and her father's participation in The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II told from the daughter's perspective.

The storytelling has a poetic quality to it. The images are strong and powerful. One feels the tension, the drama, and the risk as the fisherman take to the seas to help rescue the soldiers trapped. While a fictionalized tale, the author based her story on solid research. The book begins with a foreword from a Royal Navy Lieutenant, Christopher Dreyer who commanded a Torpedo Boat during the evacuation. He speaks of Louise Borden making the pilgrimage with the Association of Little ships to Dunkirk in 1995 to get a better understanding of what the journey would have been like. Clearly nothing could recreate the war experience, but being there adds a layer not found in historical documents from the time.

World War II can be a challenging time period for younger readers, but I believe, Ms. Borden has provided context and a story that engages readers. The author's notes in the back provide some additional historical information for readers not familiar with the time period. It also is a strong story about a girl from the time period.

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