Review

369. Alternative READ: Moggie Grows Up ~ Margaret Gail ~ authorsonline.co.uk ~ Children / History / Educational

Title: Moggie Grows Up
Author: Margaret Gail
Publisher: Authors Online UK
Website of Publisher: www.authorsonline.co.uk
Genre: Children / History / Educational
Publication date: 2006
ISBN: 0-7552-0227-9
Length: 70 pages
Format: Paperback

Moggie Grows Up ~ Margaret Gail ~ authorsonline.co.uk ~ Children / History / Educational

Moggie Grows Up by Margaret Gail

Margaret lives with her mother and father in North London. Like any eight year old she attends school, has lots of friends, and is looking forward to the school holidays. However, the year is 1939, and there are rumours of a war. Unlike the school children of today, they spend most of their time learning how to put on their gas masks, and practicing air raid drills should war against Germany break out.

Although the thought of a war looming should terrify, these daily routines amuse many children, as the seriousness of what might happen is unknown to them. That is, until things get much worse, and those old enough to understand see with their own eyes the horror and devastation war can bring.

Despite all the doom and gloom of such a topic, this memoir is not all misery, and hopelessness. As Moggie (the author’s childhood nickname) grows up, she sees and begins to understand another side to it all.

It’s a pleasure to read, Ms. Gail’s, thoughts of how she grows up, and learns to ‘make do’ with the best they have, during times where rules are strict; such as being allowed only five inches of bath water, coping with food rations, and mending clothes and shoes.

We hear how they listened to radios by candlelight in cold damp air raid shelters, dealt with the blackouts of the Blitz, and irregular supplies of gas and water. Of course like many children reading this book, of which this is intended for, I too wouldn’t want to live with the threat of invasion, or listen to the bombs falling around me at night. But with all these disasters going on around them, those that lived these times, shared a sense of togetherness; a community to which they all belonged, who worked together and made the best of a bad situation. Throughout this book there is a great sense of belonging, caused by the drastic changes and sacrifices both the men and women made in order to survive and protect our country. Incidentally, my father was also an evacuee. He moved from London to Lavenham. And if he hadn’t of, he would never have met my mother. So there’s another example of something good coming out of something bad, which ties in nicely with the theme of this book.

Moggie Grows Up encapsulates the memories, and understandings of Margaret Gail’s life during the Second World War, with a touching style that can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. In this thoughtfully put together memoir, it is clear Margaret personally experienced many of these situations. The author has a keen understanding of rhythm and pace, and knows how to unfold the story line, for the younger audience, yet keeping this adult reader fascinated. The feel of the book is light-hearted, but does not skip on the sad truths of such a frightening time, but acknowledges them for what they were in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way.

Although, this is written as an educational book for years three and four, my son (year six) is keen to borrow this after me, as he is learning about the Second World War in his History lessons! Keen? That’s got to be a first! Thank you, Ms Gail.

This is quite a moving educational book, and holds some valuable lessons the children (and some adults) of todays chuck away society, could all learn. There is something to be said for learning skills, such as sewing, knitting, and cooking with minimum resources. Pulling together, as a community…I could go on, and on.

To summarise, this short anecdotal book is more than an aid to History lessons, it is a realistic account of the drastic changes and the emotional impact war had upon the lives of those children who lived it.

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