This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a print copy of the book to three randomly drawn winners (US only). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
It’s 1940 and Nazi bombs are raining down on London, but 13-year-old bike messenger Jack has just discovered something unbelievable: a stray dog with a surprising talent.
Jack navigates the smoky, ash-covered streets of London amid air raid sirens and falling bombs, dodging shrapnel and listening for cries for help, as a bike messenger for fire crews. When Jack finds a dog, miraculously still alive after the latest Nazi bombing of London, he realizes there’s something extra special about the shaggy pup–he can smell people who are trapped under debris.
With his new canine companion, nicknamed Rip because of the dog’s torn ear, maybe Jack can do more than just relay messages back-and-forth–he can actually save lives. And if Jack’s friend Paula is right about the impending Nazi invasion, he and Rip will need to do all they can to help Jewish families like hers.
There’s just one problem: Jack has to convince his ill-tempered father to let him keep Rip.
Based on true episodes during the London Blitz in World War II, this action-packed and touching story explores the beginnings of search-and-rescue dogs and the bravery and resourcefulness of young people determined to do their part for their country.
Read an Excerpt
The whole school had been evacuated just after the war was declared, September 3, 1939, but Jack had no one to pair up with, not like the other lads. He absolutely hated his new home.
He was the last boy chosen as they all waited in a village hall in the middle of Norfolk. An old couple took him in. They lived in a tiny hamlet with only three cottages and miles and miles of wet fields and woods. The couple were both deafer than him, and he gave up talking to them by the second night. After three weeks he wrote to Mum and threatened to run away, so she came down to bring him home. She came the next day, and they left on the evening train.
As they arrived back at their flat in Camden, tired and hungry after the long journey, she put a hand on his arm and said, “Sorry, love.” Then she opened the front door. Jack stepped onto the mat and looked down as always, expecting Salt and Pepper to be winding their silky bodies around and around his legs, leaving black and white hairs on his socks, purring in a satisfied way that he was finally home.
But there was no sign of his pets.
“Speak to your dad,” said Mum, her head ducking as she scurried down the hall to the kitchen.
A spear of alarm stabbed his stomach as Jack ran into the living room where Dad was sitting, false leg lying on the carpet, stump up on a footstool covered with the empty trouser leg.
“Where’s Salt and Pepper?” demanded Jack.
Dad removed a pipe from his mouth, knocked out the ash into an ashtray, and said, “Now look here. We did what was right, and I don’t want to hear no arguments from you, my lad.”
“Like everyone said, the pets will go mad when the bombs start, and we’d never have enough rations to feed one cat, let alone two, so . . .”
“Where are they then? Who’s got them? They’re my cats. I’m gonna get them back, right now!”
“They’re gone,” said Dad.
“What do you mean gone?”
“To sleep— the vet put them down. They didn’t suffer, so don’t go on about it.”
About the Author:
Miriam Halahmy is a poet, special needs educator, and novelist. She has worked with refugees in schools as well as in workshops she led for PEN and the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture. Her books include Behind Closed Doors and Hidden, which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.