When the German bombing raids on Liverpool reach an horrific intensity, Barry's mum decides he would be far safer sent to live with his Gran in Dublin. At first he finds it difficult to make new friends there and fit into the established pecking-order of playground bullies but then he makes friends with Grace who's also moved because her house was destroyed in a stray Luftwaffe raid of the North Strand, Dublin. Gradually Barry settles into his new life but used to Britain's fear of spies and the 'walls have ears' campaign, he begins to distrust his over-friendly sports teacher Mr Pawlek. He claims to be Polish but could he really be a German spy? No one else seems to doubt him, but Barry and Grace feel they should investigate....
Secrets and Shadows is an exciting children's wartime adventure with lots of factual details and historical snippets to give it a good feel of time and place but without over-shadowing the plot. It was very interesting to see WW2 from an Irish perspective - I'd never given a thought to the fact that Eire too suffered from the disruption of trade with the US despite being a neutral country and never realised Dublin was bombed - but mainly this is a good old-fashioned Famous Five style adventure. With the role of 'lead character' shared between Barry and Grace, this should be a book to appeal to both boys and girls and have them biting their nails as the story heads to a dramatic conclusion.
Maryom's review - 4.5 starsPublisher - O'Brien Press
Genre - war, adventure, 10+ children's fiction