Rip to the Rescue

Written by Miriam Halahmy
Review by Lorelei Brush

Set in 1940s London, this gripping novel about a 13-year-old holds the interest of adults and children alike.

Jack serves as a bike messenger between fire brigades during the Blitz, when telephones often don’t work. He must race through blacked-out streets, dodging falling walls and flying shrapnel, knowing that many people might die if he doesn’t reach his destination in a timely manner. On one of his forays across town he discovers an abandoned, shaggy dog who has a special talent to sniff the presence of people beneath the rubble or inside crumbling buildings. Within Jack’s school friends who’ve stayed in London are a boy looting kitchens so his family doesn’t starve, a bully who has bothered Jack for years, and a Jewish girl who is panicked that the Germans will invade and take her family away. If these are not enough problems for a young teen to face, he also has a father whose leg was partially amputated in World War I and seems to take his anger about that out on his son.

Every page of this novel keeps the reader in suspense. I read it in one sitting, as I needed to find out what was going to happen next. Would Jack be able to deliver his message, would he learn to stand up to the bully, and would his father come to recognize the strong hero he had in his son? Given that this is a book aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds, readers know the story will turn out well, but some particular incidents may not!