Series: Time Train to The Blitz
By Sophie McKenzie
A gust of air whooshed past Joe’s ears. He opened his eyes, his hand still gripping Pippy’s collar. The train had stopped centimetres in front of them. The sky above them brightened.
“Wow,” Scarlett breathed.
Joe blinked. The train standing in front of him now wasn’t like any he’d seen before. It was the usual train shape – long, with a rounded front end, like a bottle-nosed dolphin. But it was made from the same glowing material as the train tracks, pulsing with a faint fluorescent light.
And it seemed to hover above the tracks – not quite touching them.
Joe peered round the side. The train wasn’t long – just a single compartment with a single door. There was no sign of a driver.
Smoothly, silently, the door slid back, revealing a bright orange interior.
“Woof!” Pippy wagged her tail.
“Look, Joe.” Scarlett peered inside. “There are two big chairs and a TV screen and –” she craned her neck further round the door – “someone’s left some clothes on a table too…”
With a bark, Pippy jumped on board.
For a second, Scarlett hesitated, then she leaped after the dog.
“Pippy, Scarlett, come back!” Joe yelled. Honestly, that was so typical of Scarlett – rushing into things without checking them out first.
Joe crept closer to the door, taking in the big orange chairs. What kind of train had only two seats?
A blank TV screen ran down one side of the compartment. Beyond it, at the end of the carriage, Scarlett was standing beside the table, holding up a white pinafore. Pippy padded over to her.
“Pippy, come here,” Joe said, firmly.
Pippy stared at him with her big brown eyes. “Woof!” She wagged her tail.
Joe sensed she was trying to reassure him. Scarlett had put down the white pinafore and was now holding up a pair of long, dark-brown shorts.
“Wow,” she said, her eyes shining. “They’re like dressing-up clothes, Joe. Girls’ stuff and boys’.”
Joe took a deep breath and climbed into the train compartment. He grabbed Pippy’s collar and looked round. “This is well weird,” he said.
“I know.” Scarlett was now examining a blue dress. “Look at this, it’s really heavy – but isn’t the colour beautiful?”
Joe shook his head. He picked up a coarse white shirt from the table. It was a boy’s shirt. About his size and similar to the one he wore for school – though made of much rougher and heavier material. Orange writing on the inside of the collar caught his eye.
Scarlett held the dress out in front of her.
“I’m going to try it on,” she said, all excited.
Joe rolled his eyes. Trust Scarlett to treat this bizarre experience as an excuse for playing dressing up.
“It’s not yours,” he pointed out.
But Scarlett already had the dress half over her head.
Joe frowned, then looked back at the orange writing on the inside of the shirt collar. No. He peered more closely. It couldn’t be...
Joe Simmons. The orange words spelled out his name.
It all starts when a mysterious train appears in the park. Before they know what’s happening, Joe and Scarlett are whisked away on a journey back in time. Magically transported to World War II, they’re given a mission: to save a young boy’s life. But with bombs falling on London, they find they are counting down to disaster… Travelling back to danger...May 1941, London, The Blitz. An exciting time slip story from best-selling and award-winning author, Sophie McKenzie.
“"Action-packed time-slip adventure...spot on for this age group."”
Winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award and a Richard & Judy featured author, Sophie McKenzie enjoys both critical acclaim and popular appeal. Sophie was born in London where she currently lives with her son. A huge fan of folk icon Bob Dylan, Sophie enjoys listening to music whilst she writes sometimes to fit with her mood and sometimes because she associates certain songs with specific characters. She always wanted to write about The Blitz because her mother’s family lived through it so with Time Train to the Blitz she now has.
The Lancashire Fantastic Book Awards aims to support reading for pleasure and enjoyment by introducing newly published fiction titles to upper KS2 pupils. Over 85 primary schools and over 2000 pupils usually take part.
The Southwark Book Award is a reading project for Year 6 and Year 7 pupils in the Southwark area of London. Around 20 schools in Southwark are involved in voting for the winner which will be announced on the 1st July 2011.
Time Train to The Blitz by Sophie McKenzie is one of three books shortlisted in the Books for Younger Readers category. The Red House Children's Book Award is chosen and voted for entirely by children. Voting closes on the 21st May 2011.
Read the following reviews or write one of your own.
“Time Train to the Blitz”
As I am only an 11 year old girl i found this book very easy going. I enjoyed all the details put in and I just found the book unable to be put down. The story and plan were very exciting and the story was wrote as a basis as if it were true.
“A story which transposes Scarlett, Joe and their dog Pippy from the modern day into the Second World War. The peril of home life during the period are brought to life in this adrenaline pumping adventure, the pace which never drops.”
The Bookseller - Bookseller's Choice
“A gripping time-slip story with a World War Two setting plunges two children into an exciting adventure when they climb aboard a mysterious train and find themselves transported back to London at the time of the Blitz. Soon Joe and Scarlett find themselves on a desperate mission to save the life of Alfie whose home is blown to smithereens by a bomb. Packed full of detail about the time, this is gives a good insight into the very real dangers of growing up during the Blitz.”
“This is quite a short novel (fewer than a hundred and fifty pages) and the type is satisfyingly large, so that the reader is able to move quickly from page to page while still feeling he or she is reading a 'real' book. This is an important feature for the newly confident reader who would struggle not to lose interest in a book which seemed to go on and on, with no end in sight. The chapters are not too long, the cover is attractive and colourful, giving plenty of information about the era, and the page numbers are all framed by a design of two searchlights – a nice touch. Sophie McKenzie has written several books already, and her mastery of her medium is clear.. She manages, in Time Train to the Blitz, to provide many telling details of life during World War II for her readers, many of whom will, like Joe himself, have studied the era at school. But she never loses sight of the fact that this book is primarily a breath-taking adventure story, not a school book. It is an excellent read, and I sincerely hope we will soon be able to read about further, and even more exciting, journeys on the Time Train.”
The Book Bag Website
“This is a nail-biting, unputdownable story full of atmospheric detail. Fairly large print encourages new readers onto slightly longer novels.”
“Children and railways are a literary marriage made in heaven ever since Edith Nesbitt’s 1906 classic The Railway Children. Now, Crouch End author Sohpie McKenzie has joined the ride, with her latest book Time Train To The Blitz Scarlett...Former journalist and mum-of-one McKenzie has twice won the Red House Children’s Book Award with her debut novel Girl Missing and her 2009 book Blood Ties. McKenzie says the action packed adventure set in war torn London was inspired by her mother’s family, who lived through the Blitz. “I’ve always wanted to know more about what life was like for people living through the Blitz and really enjoyed the opportunity to find out as part of my research for Time Train” she said.”
Ham & High
“A fast-track thriller to excitement, danger and a city suffering the ravages of war...Sophie McKenzie’s pulsating new time travel adventure for young readers is a breathtaking, top speed train journey into the heart of London during the terrifying Blitz of the Second World War. And it’s just waiting to whisk you away... McKenzie transports her readers to a world of adventure and fantasy but successfully tempers the make-believe with some harsh historical facts and thought-provoking realism. And with an all-action plot, cliffhangers at every turn of the page, an edge-of-the-seat race against time and the thrill of travelling to days gone by, Time Train to the Blitz is simply past perfect...””
Lancashire Evening Post
“This is an exciting story about two children and a dog who go back in time to the second world war (The Blitz) and there they meet a boy and they save his life. My favourite character would have to be the dog Pippy because when the boy is stuck in the garden with a very big dog (Big Rex) the little dog pippy distracts Big Rex so the boy can escape. The story is exciting with a lot going on at once – I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one go! I would recommend it to anyone from the age 7 to 10. It was one of the best books I have ever read and would give the book a rating of 4/5.”
Bookbabblers online book group for children and young adults
“Children who have studied WWII in their history lessons will love that this story brings to life some of the things they have been learning about.”
Family Interest Magazine
“Sophie McKenzie was already one of my favourite UK authors before reading this book, but now I think there's absolutely nothing she can't do. She approaches Time Train to the Blitz with the utmost respect, and never glorifies any parts of the war. She tells a story of chance and danger, while showing the loss of innocence that occured during the years of 1939 - 1945. (Click on the link to read the full review.)”
Wondrous Reads blog
“Like an electric train, the plot in this historical flash-back novel picks up speed quickly and whizzes along at a breath-taking pace. Although we guess from the start that our journey is going to lead to the successful rescue of a boy caught up in London’s Blitz, it’s still nail-biting fun getting there as two modern-day children race against time and a ticking bomb to become life-saving heroes from the future.”
Evening Echo (Cork)
“Simply and vividly written, the story captures the fear, confusion and community spirit of 19402 London. You can almost hear the sirens and taste the terror of the children as the German bombers whine overhead. Facts about the war are woven in without a hint of dry historical teaching. Even the obvious flaw in the time travel concept is neatly addressed when modern-day Joe tells 1940s Alfie that yes, the Allies will win the end. This lively, pacy tale should capture the imagination of the most reluctant young historian.”
Inis and Bookfest (Ireland)
“Good web links suggested at the end of the novel make this an excellent choice for any child eager to know more about living through the Blitz”
“As well as being a roller coaster-ride sort of adventure, the story brings 1941 London to life very vividly and successfully highlights the dangers of living through the London Blitz. I think this is the great strength of this novel because actually, I think children will learn quite a bit while reading it, without even noticing probably. It goes into quite a lot of detail as to what life was like at the time, and it is written in a way that young readers will find interesting... There is a real spirit of the everyday hero amongst the young characters and I found them to be quite inspiring in their own way. I hope young readers will find themselves inspired by them too.”
Visit Usborne Quicklinks for links to websites with newsreels, photos and eyewitness accounts of life in London during the Blitz.