Billie Templar's War
Billie Templar's War
Bodley Head Children's Books
Billie Templar desperately wants her dad to come home. He's a soldier and has been away for seven weeks, fighting for 'Queen and country' - but how can the two of them possibly defend their four-year record of winning the three-legged race at the school carnival if he's thousands of miles away? Then, when one of the other soldiers in Dad's regiment is seriously hurt, the stakes get even higher. Billie needs her dad home, sharpish. There's only one person who can help - Her Majesty. She's in charge of the army, right? She can send Dad home! Billie tries to get inside Buckingham Palace to sort it out, but it's not that easy. So, with the help of shy Sarah and allergy-prone Jake, the school brass band and a motley team of enthusiastic old-age pensioners, Billie hatches a fool-proof plan to get the Queen to her little village instead...Both laugh-out-loud funny and utterly heart-wrenching, and featuring an unforgettable cast of sweet, crazy characters, Billie's journey will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.Librarian's Book choice
This is the second novel from an author who is definitely one to watch for this age group and adds to the growing number of quality stand-alone titles for younger readers, that are thankfully coming forward now, after so many years of stereotypical gender-based series fiction being the only thing on offer.
As with her debut novel For the Record, we have an extensive cast of quirky, memorable characters. I also particularly love the way this book refers to a news story about the events of the first book, making it seem as if this author is indeed creating her own engaging version of the United Kingdom.
She seems to specialise in creating multi-layered communities of young and old who, despite many mishaps and misunderstanding along the way, manage to work together to achieve the very well intentioned aim of the main protagonist.
This is in the very best tradition of children's literature where children know better than adults how to solve the problems of the world! Billie Templar is by no means a saccharine heroine however. She is prickly and often antagonistic and faces compromising moral decisions, but her aspirations are wholly sympathetic.
She loves her Dad and he is a soldier in Afghanistan, just like a neighbour who has returned from the war a cripple. At first she just wants him there beside her for the annual carnival, but that somewhat selfish wish is subsumed in a desire to just have him safely beside her. Her master plan involves the Queen, who is after all the boss of all soldiers, making this a perfect read in Jubilee year.
There are lots of other potential uses as well, particularly in talking about community cohesion and racism. Billie is a staunch and fearless advocate of the right of everyone, whatever their age, ability or colour to perform for the Queen. Often downright hilarious and with moments of genuine pathos this is a class read that will engage and provoke in equal measure.