Tuesday, 10 February 2015
The Paradise Barn Series by Victor Watson
I love good historical fiction. Being a history teacher means I am very picky about what I like purely because I want to be able to recommend books to the kids I teach and know that I am not recommending stuff that is going to confuse them or give them misconceptions that really inaccurate to the time period we are studying in class.
One series I particularly adore is Victor Watson's Paradise Barn series. The books follow the story of a young group of friends and their experiences over the course of World War Two. I was hooked from the first book for the following reasons.
Firstly the history is very good. What is included is well researched and accurate. The author lived through the time period (albeit as a very young child) and I suspect some of the tales are based on the bits he remembers and what his family experienced over the course of the war. It gives the historical that personal and authentic touch which I loved too. They strike the perfect balance when it comes to detail about the period. They give enough to think about and give a real sense of period but also doesn't get bogged down in dry facts meaning the story doesn't drag in any of the books.
The main three characters are ace. I loved following them across the series of books which starts in 1940 and finishes in 1945 and seeing them grow up across the series of books. I found them to be very relatable and I can see children of the target audience identifying with them despite the fact that the series is set over 60 years ago.
As mentioned above I loved watching the main characters grow up over the course of the series and I love seeing how the stories themselves grow up. As the series progress the themes are a bit darker and more grown up whilst still being very suitable for a Middle Grade audience and that darkening reflects the impact growing up during war time has on the main characters. I also love how they give the reader lots to think about and actually while these are Middle Grade titles because the content isn't gory I actually think older readers would find enough in them to keep them engaged and interested too in the way they tackle issues especially in the final book of the series.
Finally the thing I adore most about this series is that it is charming, utterly timeless and just wonderful throughout. I love these stories. I love the time period. I find myself completely and utterly engrossed every time I pick these novels up because there is always a mystery element to them which keeps you guessing throughout. For me this series is definitely one of those underrated ones which I would love more people to know and adore like I do. Perfect for any child who is a World War Two fan