A Shirtful of Frogs
A World War II Timeslip Adventure
by Shalini Boland
About the Book:
The life of a WWII evacuee collides with the world of a boy from the present day, in this timeslip adventure. As WWII breaks out, six-year-old Jimmy Sweeney is evacuated from London to the country. He is now an outcast, bullied by the local kids and mistreated by the awful Mrs Cribbins. One night a stranger appears in his room. A tall clean boy who brings him wonderful food and other amazing things. They become friends which is good because pretty soon Jimmy is going to need a friend. His life may depend upon it . . .
Based on true events A Shirtful of Frogs takes place in the early 1940's during the beginning of World War II. It opens by introducing Jimmy a mischievous 6 year old and his twin brother Patrick. The next scene has a realistic view of Jimmy's family's London neighborhood being bombed and from there the adventure begins with a train ride for the brothers to the countryside where they are split up and Jimmy ends up with a cruel woman who only took him in for the money.
I loved how easy it was to read this book. It moves fast and the switch between decades is easy to maneuver. Jimmy seems to be a bit "old" mentally for a 6 year old but he grew up on the streets running wild, getting into trouble and has very little guidance from a mother who is overwhelmed with 11 kids and husband off to war. After he gets shipped off to the country we meet Nathan a modern day 12 year old who is moving to a new house, a new school and who ends up waking up in the middle of the night and follows the sounds of crying up to the 3rd story of their new house and discovers Jimmy a child from the 1940's. He's neglected, hungry and lonely & Nathan feeds him.
I loved how sympathetic Nathan was toward what he feels is his responsibility - this is a character trait that I'd love to see in more books for the preteen crowd.
This story is great for kids about 8 to 12/13 years old. It would be a great family read aloud. Some of the subjects are a little heavy for younger kids but they are handled lightly and there isn't any part of the book that would be scary. You may need to talk with your kids about some of the events of the 1940's (kids being shipped out of London, siblings being separated, bombs dropping and killing people in the houses across the street) and it's disturbing that Jimmy is slowly starving to death in the book thanks to Mrs Cribbins the woman who took him in. What's sad is that I'm sure many of the children being sent out from London were neglected and mistreated.
About the author:
Shalini Boland lives in Dorset with her husband and two noisy boys where she grabs every spare second to write novels. She has written several books: Outside, a post-apocalyptic novel and Books 1 & 2 in the Marchwood Vampire Series: Hidden and Thicker than blood. Book 2 of the Outside Series and Book 3 of the Marchwood Vampire Series will be released soon.
You can learn more about Shalini on her blog "A Person Wot Writes" and get updates on new releases and other events in this new authors career on her Facebook page. I guess I can't really say she's new since she has several other books including 2 series. It seems her books are mostly in the Vampire genre and you won't see those on CCB so I must say I'm thrilled that she has written A Shirtful of Frogs. I'm really hoping she does this as a series also. It would be really neat to have Nathan (our hero) meet other people in different decades or even centuries that lived in the area or region in the book.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of one or more of these items. I was not required to write a positive review and no money exchanged hands.