Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Just Binnie

Just Binnie

Dick King-Smith
Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Puffin (UK), 2005   ISBN: 978-0141316208

Mr. and Mrs. Bone have spent almost twenty-five years together as husband and wife, and as a treat they are going to go on a trip for their anniversary; they are going to cross the Atlantic on the new liner, the RMS Titanic. While they are gone Binnie, their seventeen year-old daughter who is the eldest of their six children, will take care of things with the help of Nanny Watts.

Not long after the departure of Mr. and Mr. Bone, Nanny Watts comes and tells Binnie that the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. More than fifteen hundred people died, and it would appear that Binnie’s parents are not amongst the survivors. In one fell swoop Binnie and her siblings are orphans, and the enormity of their situation is too dreadful for words.

Soon after they get the news, the Bones children gather with their grandparents to talk about what they are going to do. General Bone, Mr. Bone’s father, announces that the six children should be divided between the two sets of grandparents, but Binnie makes it clear that she is not in favor of this arrangement. She is sure that her parents would want her to keep the family together. Binnie announces that she will take over the job of caring for the household and her siblings, and this is exactly what she does.

When the new school year begins, Alex, Charles, and Edward return to their boarding schools, and Dodie and Fifi resume their lessons at home, as is the custom. Once the death of her parents is finally confirmed Binnie decides that they should have a memorial service for them at the local church. The vicar, Mr. Seymour, helps make sure that General Bone does not take over arranging the event, and thus Binnie is able to bid adieu to her parents as she sees fit.

Only two years after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Bone, the Bone household is shaken up again when Britain goes to war with Germany. Eighteen year old Alex decides that he should join up, and he joins the Somerset Yeomanry regiment. His younger brother Charles lies about his age and joins the Air Corps. Binnie now lives in fear that this new threat will take her brothers away from her, but there is nothing that she can do but pray that they will be spared. When the vicar tells Binnie that he too is going to join up to serve as a chaplain in the Somerset Yeomanry she can hardly bear it. It would appear that she has fallen for the kind vicar who has helped her so much during the last few years.

This wonderful story takes us into the lives of a family who have to cope with a terrible loss. It is uplifting to see how Binnie takes on the job of caring for her siblings, and to see how she copes with the many problems that face her in the years that follow the loss of her parents.

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