Wednesday 7 October 2015

My Secret War Diary by Flossie Albright

My Secret War Diary by Flossie Albright written by Marcia Williams (Walker Books)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781406331998

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The tremendously successful Archie’s War documented WW1 through the eyes of Archie as a child. Now Archie’s daughter, Flossy, has compiled her own diary about WW2. It covers 1939–1945.

Archie has joined the army and left nine year old Flossy to care for her baby brother. Flossy’s mother died after Boo was born.  They live at Honeysuckle Cottage on an estate in Dorchester with Great-Uncle Colin, who is head gardener. Flossy loves to draw and is given the diary to document the war and to keep her occupied and literate. The pages are filled to overflowing with drawings that share her life, and the lives of her friends and family. There is also fold-out family tree.

This is a marvellous scrapbook/diary. Its wealth of information is collected from many different sources. It’s compiled of statistics, local information, fold-out letters from home and overseas, newspaper cuttings, posters, photographs and maps. It relays the fears, thoughts, feelings, and extraordinary challenges faced during those difficult years, many from the point of view of children. This allows readers of the 9+ age groups to relate to the characters’ experiences, and learn about the war with interest.

Flossy’s humorous tone makes it a cheerful narrative, despite the sad happenings. Each historical entry magnifies the courage, resilience and resourcefulness of the children left behind to do adult work, knit for the soldiers, and to grow food to keep themselves alive. The power of the Women’s Land Army and the countless other women’s associations is never understated. Neither is the role the nurses played.

I found this a valuable book. I enjoyed every word and it is visually stimulating, educational and entertaining. It’s something children will love and return to over and over.

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