Thursday, 1 September 2016

DELIGHFTUL KIDS BOOKS | 'The Emergency Zoo' by Miriam Halahmy (****)

Hello readers, and Thursday! Today I am very excited to share with you a brand new feature I have been working on over the last few weeks - a children's books feature - Delighful Kids Books!

Every Thursday throughout the month of September I will be spotlighting a children's book and giving it a review, along with a little description of the book and who I think might enjoy it - so if you have little people in your life, you can decide if they might enjoy it too. I'm not that experienced in blogging about kids books, so I'm just going to have a go and see if it works. If this feature proves to be popular then I might just turn it into a regular feature, so keep your eyes peeled ;)

Even when I was little I was a ferocious and dedictaed reader, and kids books are some of the best reads out there, even for us adults. In this weekly feature I want to talk about the classics that are everyone's favourites (and should be on every kids bookshelf!) and new releases that I don't want you to miss out on. I hope you enjoy!

For the very first Delightful Kids Books feature, I want to spotlight a fantastic kids book released in May this year:
The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy. The Emergency Zoo is a gorgeous book about friendship, resilience and bravery, set in the chaotic and fearful atmosophere of the Second World War. Twelve-year-olds Tilly and Rosy have to adjust to unexpected and unwanted changes to the comfortable lives they are used to, but then their world is shattered when they learn that the government is ordering for every pet to be put down by the vet. Tilly and Rosy decide to take matters into their own hands, but what trouble will their bravery cause them?

I was kindly sent The Emergency Zoo by Alma Books in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

  When the war comes, who will save the animals?

It is late August 1939: Britain is on the brink of war, and preparations are under way to evacuate London’s children to the countryside. When twelve-year-old Tilly and her best friend Rosy find out that they will not be able to take their beloved dog and cat with them – and that, even worse, their pets will, along with countless other animals, be taken to the vet to be put down – they decide to take action. The two girls come up with the idea of hiding them in a derelict hut in the woods and, when other children find out and start bringing their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, their secret den turns into an emergency zoo.

Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Miriam Halahmy’s novel is a touching tale of courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie in desperate times, as well as a stirring defence of animal welfare.

When I was younger I loved reading books about World War Two - Private Peaceful, War Horse, The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Goodnight Mr Tom just to name a few. Therefore it was great to be able to read another middle-grade World War Two novel, after having gone through seven years of school and one year of university, knowing a lot more about the history of World War Two than I did when I first read these kind of books. 

The Emergency Zoo is a beautifully written book and I was immediately sucked into the story and intricately described world of the characters before the end of the first chapter.  The writing was accessible for children and yet not patronising, and the dialogue was also incredibly enjoyable to read. 

The story was told through the perspective of the protagonist Tilly, which made for a fantastically told story with the innocence and heart of a child. I in particular loved her relationship with her best friend, Rosy. Both girls were really well written as courageous, intelligent girls with a fierce sense of dedication and responsibility towards their own pets, and the people around them. There was a huge sense of adventure in this book, which added to the historical context the story was set in, which would no doubt make a child who was reading it be  interested in learning about the Second World War. 

Along with the fantastically paced, beautifully written story, there were also important issues and themes running through the book. When Tilly befriends two Jewish children, who have been sent to England on the Kinder Transport, Tilly not only protects them against bullies as the other children denounce them as 'not one of us', but also has an important conversation with her parents as they explain to her that the Jews in Germany are treated horrifically and that they are not fighting the war against them, they are fighting the war against Hitler. I think that Halahmy did a great job of including vital moral issues into the story, which are such an important part of a child's understanding of World War Two. There were so many parts in the book that almost made me well up - there was so much heart and emotion included in the story, with the unwavering hopefulness of a child.

Overall, I loved The Emergency Zoo and would recommend it to children aged 9 and up - I thoroughly enjoyed it as a nineteen year old - so there is no reason why you won't!

Keep an eye out for the next Delightful Kids Books feature next Thursday :)

Check out Miriam Halahmy here:


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