World War I Tales: The Bomber Balloon

Written by Terry Deary
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley Louis McNulty

A village in Essex, 1916. World War I is raging, and ordinary civilians are also under attack. The Germans are sending out zeppelins to bomb London and the surrounding area.

One night, young Millie Wilson goes out to the local shop, bumps – literally – into Constable Smith, and screams. The policeman says he could arrest her and explains about DORA, the Defence of the Realm Act, which forbids anyone to make a noise at night, like screaming, which might alert a zeppelin to the presence of people. Then they hear a deep rumbling noise, and a huge zeppelin appears – and it’s far too low.

Above them the zeppelin’s crew are worried. The airship has been hit, and gas is leaking. They have no option but to land, but that’s dangerous; the zeppelin could explode at any moment. Meanwhile, Millie and two constables are bicycling as fast as they can to arrest the crew as soon as they land.

I thoroughly enjoyed this little story. I loved the details of what was considered suspicious in wartime: flying a kite, for example, or lurking under a bridge. And mention must be made of James de la Rue’s illustrations, which, with a few strokes of the pen, manage to neatly encapsulate a character. The Bomber Balloon has obviously been published to commemorate the 2014 centenary of the beginning of World War I. It’s just the thing to interest both girls and boys of nine up in what was happening on the Home Front. Recommended.

Elizabeth Hawksley


I thought this book was both strange and good. Strange because I didn’t expect it to be any good because I don’t like war books which are full of sadness and terror. But when I read it, I thought this book was very good because of its style. Like many of Terry Deary’s books, it has a hook which makes you want to go on reading. In this case, Millie Watson running into the policeman and being scared in Chapter 1 made me want to continue. I liked how the story was easy to read. Overall I would rate this book for ages 9-11 because I don’t think 12-year-olds and teenagers would rate this book, and anyone younger than 9 wouldn’t understand it.

Louis McNulty, age 10