Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

David and the Mighty Eighth

David and the Mighty Eighth

Marjorie Hodgson Parker
Illustrator:  Mark Postlethwaite 
Historical Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Bright Sky Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-1931721936

David Freeman is only ten when World War II turns his life upside down. His dad joins the Royal Air Force and takes on the deadly job of defending Britain from the Germans by flying a tiny little plane against the might of Hitler's Nazi forces. In June of 1940 things get a lot worse when the Germans begin a bombing campaign targeting British cities. London in particular gets hammered and night after night David, his sister Mary, and their mother take refuge in a bomb shelter, terrified that their neighborhood might be hit next.

David's mother finally decides that she cannot let her children remain in London any longer. They, like so many other children, will have to be evacuated. At least David and Mary won't have to go to live with strangers. They are going to live on their grandparent's farm outside Norwich.

Soon enough David and Mary are settled in with their father's parents. Grandfather is very demanding and he is not an affectionate man, but there is always warm loving Nana who does her best to comfort David and Mary.

Then David's father goes missing and his mother comes to live on the farm with the rest of the family. Not knowing if his father is dead or alive is very hard for David but he does his best to be strong and to do what he can for the war effort and for his family.

One of the things that keeps him going is being able to watch the American planes come and go at the nearby airfield. David becomes especially attached to the crew of one particular plane, and every time they go on a mission he worries about them until they get back to the airfield. He cannot help wondering if he would have the courage to do what they do day after day.

In this well-written and very personal story, the author shows her readers what it would have been like to be a child in Britain during the war years. Readers will come to understand how terrifying the Blitz was, how much life was affected by rationing, and how it felt to have a father in the military who was missing in action. The author is very honest about David's feelings, which makes the story very genuine.

Based on the stories of real people who experienced wartime life in Britain, this book is an excellent tribute not only to the courage of the British people but also to the courage of the American fliers who fought so hard against German forces.