The Great Escape
Summer 1939. Robert Edwards, aged twelve, and his nine-year-old sister, Lucy, live in London with their parents and three pets: a collie, Rose, who once worked as a sheepdog on a farm in Devon; a lively Jack Russell terrier called Buster who loves finding things; and a ginger and white cat called Tiger.
When war breaks out, the family must split up. Robert and Lucy are evacuated to Devon to live with their grandmother, Mr Edwards rejoins his air reconnaissance job, and Mrs Edwards, a nurse, joins a hospital ship.
The three pets are taken to some neighbours, the Harrises, to be looked after. But Mr Harris resents their arrival and drags them to the local animal shelter to be put down – along with three-quarters of a million other pets. Tiger smells danger and escapes and, in the ensuing fracas, Buster and Rose escape as well. But where will they be safe? Buster and Rose are quite unused to looking after themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming book. Everyone is tested. Robert and Lucy must cope with new and difficult circumstances. Their granny is suffering from mild dementia and can’t look after them; Robert’s teacher is sadistic; and there’s a spiteful girl at Lucy’s new school.
The animals, too, have much to learn. Rose is taking them on the long journey back to the farm in Devon, the only other home she remembers, and there’s plenty of danger along the way. They survive through loyalty and endurance and small acts of kindness. I learnt a lot about how animals were treated during WW2, and also about what they themselves contributed towards the war effort.
Children of eight plus should love The Great Escape and the book, deservedly, was short-listed for the Young Quills Award for historical novels.
When I was given this book, I didn’t have many expectations, but then when I read it I saw how wrong I was, how very wrong. As soon as I read the first chapter I wanted it to go on forever. I liked the way she made the dogs and cat clever but not in a human way. In other stories based on animals finding their owners, authors make their animals talk and think as we would. But Megan Rix makes the animals as they are, very clever for animals but not as clever as a human – that’s one of the reasons I like it so much. I didn’t like the cover, it just shows two dogs and a cat in the war, not that they have exciting adventures. This is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. I deeply think this should be a series.
Louis McNulty, age 10