Code Name Kingfisher

Code Name Kingfisher

By Author / Illustrator

Liz Kessler


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Simon & Schuster Ltd








From million-copy bestselling author Liz Kessler comes the powerful new landmark World War II novel for fans of Michael Morpurgo and Phil Earle.   When Liv finds a secret box from her grandmother's childhood, she uncovers an extraordinary war-time story of bravery, betrayal and daring defiance. A story that will change Liv and her family forever...  

Holland, 1942. The world is at war and as the Nazis' power grows, Jewish families are in terrible danger. 12-year-old Mila and her older sister Hannie are sent to live with a family in another city with new identities and the strict instruction not to tell anyone that they are Jewish.  Hannie, determined to fight back, is swept into the Dutch resistance as an undercover agent: Code Name Kingfisher. And though Mila does her best to make friends and keep out of trouble, there is danger at every turn and the sisters are soon left questioning who they can trust...

"A breathtaking WW2 story of bravery and sisterhood, told with the utmost care, beauty and hope by an extraordinary storyteller." - A.F. Steadman


Chloe - Age 10

I absolutely loved this book and I found it very emotional yet inspirational. It took me a while to understand how it was changing between different time lines. The further I read the more the tension built and the more everything started to come together. It was amazing how they got the adventurous atmosphere but also the fear.

The thought of war broke my heart but reading this book made me feel grateful that I have not experienced war yet and hopefully nobody will need to anymore. I felt as though I just had to read more. My eyes were glued to the pages. This book was truly amazing and very touching.

Suggested Reading Age 9+

Jessica - Age 10

It was magnificent when I first got the book; the note at the front was very inspirational and touching. It's one of the most amazing books I have ever read in my entire life. The more I read, the more interesting the book got and after reading a few pages, I couldn't stop! When I was reading this book I nearly cried at the thought of war - that time was so despairing I could feel sadness building more than ever. Overall I think everyone will love it.

Suggested Reading Age 9+

Liya - Age 11

I really liked this book, I found it very interesting and historical, learning about what happened in those times and how many Jewish people died.

Suggested Reading Age 11+


Code Name Kingfisher is a powerful tale with, sadly, much relevance to the present day. In 1940s Holland, there were those who complied with the Nazi occupying forces, those who were complicit in their crimes and even betrayed fellow citizens, and those who resisted. Where would I stand? Would my courage hold out? What price would I pay, or what bribe accept, for my freedom?

These are big questions, but Liz Kessler gives her young readers opportunity to explore them as they read about Hannie and her sister Mimi (aka Mila), their friends and their fellow countrymen (including the many Jews who were rounded up and never seen again).

It is all the more powerful because their story is told alongside modern-day Liv's - her experience of bullying, friendship and uncovering the truth. As her discoveries come to light - for a school history project - Liv sees how her history is shaped by the past, and how she can shape the present and the future by her own courageous choices.

I heartily recommend this book to teachers of Y5, 6 and above, as a class read, and to individuals who enjoy a gritty page-turner. It links well with the WWII curriculum, Holocaust Memorial Day, and with PSHE discussions about tolerance and civil society.

336 pages / Reviewed by Jane Rew, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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