Nadia, Jess, Tomma and Ash are back with another fascinating historical timeslip adventure in the Time School series. The four friends are in Year 7 in a Yorkshire mill town near Leeds when Nadia learns some sad news – her grandfather has passed away. She is asked to give a eulogy at his funeral and realises how little she knows about his – about her own – Polish heritage.
A power cut makes them late for school and in a mad rush to board the train, they find themselves all alone in a strange carriage. This seems unnervingly familiar as they soon realise that it’s happening again. They are travelling back in time. But to when?
Arriving at school, it doesn’t look like the school they visited in 1918 for their first Time School adventure, nor does it look like their modern school in 2020. As they join the other children in lessons, they find that this is not a happy time. The winter has been incredibly harsh and cold, unemployment and food shortages are causing hardship and hunger, while a group of bullies is making children’s lives miserable. One particular target is a Polish boy named Kam. Nadia and her friends get to know him and begin to understand that the end of the Second World War did not mean peace for everyone.
Following the war, Polish people living in the UK went through an incredibly difficult time. Maps were redrawn and Poland was broken up with some of the land going to Russia. This caused distrust and hostility. Despite having served with the British army, many Polish people were treated with suspicion – Were they Russian spies? Perhaps they should just go back where they came from? There was sometimes little understanding that returning to their Russian-controlled homeland would mean severe consequences for fighting with the British. Then, in March 1947, the Polish Resettlement Act officially allowed Polish people to remain and work in the UK. Unfortunately, despite the new legislation, it took many years for these new residents to be accepted and honoured for their contribution to the war effort.
Nadia is faced with the harsh reality of Kam and his family’s struggle to be Polish in a community who didn’t want them once the war was over. She and her friends learn important lessons about respect for others, the roots of racism and how the past must be changed before it’s too late. They race against time to stand up for what is right and make a difference to those who have done so much to support Britain in the war.
Nikki Young has an incredibly unique approach to the study of the Second World War for children. Focussing on the after effects of decisions made once peace was declared allows readers to look deeper at the longer term impact of this point in history. Links to modern families and heritage makes the learning personal as children realise that they may know someone whose ancestors were involved in this significant moment of the past.
I love the idea of thinking about those who have come before us – those who have lived, worked or studied in the buildings we now inhabit. It’s a similar idea to the intriguing television series, A House Through Time. History is a living, breathing, always changing entity. It’s important for children to realise that they are a part of history and living through it, particularly now in 2020. The choices they make will have an impact that goes beyond themselves.
I can’t wait for the next books in the series when readers will be able to share in the heritage of the other two members of the group – Tomma and Ash. Nikki Young’s historical storytelling is sure to continue to entertain, educate and inspire children to find out more about their own family’s story.
Thank you to Nikki Young and Hashtag Press for this brilliant book!
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