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The Blitz Bus by Glen Blackwell book review

We’ve enlisted the help of four local school children to unpack the fictional world of 1940’s wartime Britain as portrayed in Glen Blackwell’s The Blitz Bus

The Blitz Bus is an historical fiction and thrilling wartime adventure novel written by children’s author Glen Blackwell. Combining time travel with the historical realities of the Second World War, The Blitz Bus provides a new optic for young children to explore and engage with the not-so-distant past through their pre-existing connection with East End heritage.  

We hear from a bright bunch of local youngsters who share their first impressions of the book.

Robert, aged 8, from Chisenhale Primary School

I quite enjoyed it. First of all, the cover was a bit confusing as the number 8 bus is the new model and the title is about the Blitz, so wartime. 

We live in Bow and I know of the Bethnal Green disaster so I really wanted to read it fast. 

The main character, Jack, is just like me, but a bit older. And suddenly he had to find shelter for himself and Emmie during the war. How scary! 

He also met some Polish friends on his trip to the past. My family is from Poland, so their names sounded familiar. Overall, the story was interesting and not too hard to read. I think I would be excited to move back in time and sleep at the tube station or in the shelter too. 

What I would love to see in the book are the old and current pictures of places they have been to. Otherwise, it was a great read for a child like me, who likes World War II and knows a bit about it already.

Rishi, aged 6, Olga Primary School (and his mother, Aneeta)

This is a great read if your child is interested in history or is learning about the Second World War at school. Having it set locally is brilliant because it really brings the events of the war to life when you can talk about the places the story is happening and compare it to the places you might see on your walks to the shops or when you get the bus into town along Roman Road. 

The added bonus for my son was the fact that it’s the number 8 bus on the cover of the book. We felt really lucky to read a book that was set in and around our home (it led to several discussions about old and new bus models!) 

Some of the themes are a bit harder for a younger kid to comprehend (the war and time travel) but I explained it to my son as ‘two countries being cross with each other’ and ‘learning about something in school, then going there in your imagination.’ For an older child they might find time travel a bit easier to understand.   

My son and I read parts of this together and he read some on his own (with help over new words – he’s six years old so this is a bit above the ideal level for him).  However, the fact that it was new to him meant we could talk about it as we read, and we had our own mini-book club. 

I’d recommend The Blitz Bus to anyone interested in local history (as with so many good children’s books) it’s not just for kids; I enjoyed it as much as my son. I think when he’s a bit older he’ll go back to it with a new understanding. 

Twins India & Max, aged 10, from St Elizabeth Catholic Primary School (and their mother Jane)

We are on chapter 7. It’s quite a long read for my 10-year-old twins and I am reading to them as I don’t think it’s fast-moving enough for their age group or younger to keep their attention. I think this book is more appropriate for young teenagers. But we will definitely keep reading as we are keen to know how they get back. – Jane

I was so surprised that they got on the bus and ended up in the past. The past, the clothes, and the condition felt really real. We both couldn’t believe that they had so few clothes in those days – we have too many now. 

The book also allowed us to picture the story as if it were in real life as we usually walk past the Church, local pub, and the tube station where the story is set.’ – India and Max

To buy a copy of Glen Blackwell ‘s ‘The Blitz Bus’, please click on the link here.

If you liked this you might like Piecing together the lives lost in our area during The Blitz.

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