September 17

September 17

by Amanda West Lewis

This story took a while to get going but once disaster struck, it was well worth reading.  During World War II, nightly bombing attacks on England are sending everyone, young and old, into bomb shelters.  Homes are being lost and many are dying.  

The British government has decided to evacuate children to Canada.  Ken, Bess and others are among the children traveling on the City of Benares, a luxury liner transporting them across the ocean.  After leaving difficult lives where food is strictly rationed, the children revel in the food and treats provided on board the ship.  But the merriment doesn’t last long as the boat is torpedoed by a German U-boat and the children must escape into lifeboats.  

Fighting starvation, storms, dehydration and hypothermia, Ken, Bess and their traveling companions must fight their way back to land.  Some end up in lifeboats, others cling to anything they can.  Their rescue is by no means guaranteed and many do not make it.

This is a fictionalized account of a real historical event.  Kids will identify with the children of various ages in the story.  These kids, although young, must gather their strength and resolve to survive an amazing and terrifying ordeal.

Grades 4 -7.