My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

My Friend the Enemy

Written by Dan Smith

9+ readers   Books of the Month   11+ readers   The World Wars   
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Selected by our Editorial Experts

July 2013 Book of the Month An exciting and thought-provoking World War II adventure for children aged 9-12. With shades of Michael Morpurgo, Michelle Magorian and Robert Westall’s classic The Machine Gunners the author carefully explores the moral dilemma of helping the enemy, and the pressures placed on family members left at home, far away from enemy lines.

A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher

My uncle was a rear-gunner on a bomber in the war, and when he was shot down I hoped that someone would look after him. This is the choice facing our hero Peter, who finds out that being brave sometimes means doing what is most difficult. Loyalty to real values is even harder when war seems so black and white. Dan Smith’s courageous story is exciting, moving, and full of conflict. I think you’ll find yourself really CARING about what’s going to happen next.


My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

Summer, 1941. For Peter, the war is a long way away, being fought by a faceless enemy, marching across places he's never seen. Until the night it comes to him. A German plane is shot down over the woods that his Dad looked after, before he went off to fight. Peter rushes to the crash site to find something exciting to keep. But what he finds instead is some- one: a young and injured German airman. The enemy. Here. And in trouble. Suddenly, helping him seems like the right thing to do.

Visit Dan's author page to hear him reading from the book.

About the Author

Dan Smith

Growing up, Dan led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi-fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . which is where some people say he still lives most of the time!

Now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two children, Dan writes stories to share with both adults and children – and with an interest in World War 2, a great-aunt who was a flak-gunner, and a grandfather who was an army captain during the war, is it any wonder that his first book for children is set during those uncertain days of 1941?

A Q+A with Dan

You have books published for adults and children. Do you find it easier or harder to write for children? I don’t think I find it easier or harder. Of course there are differences in the way I write for adults and children, but those differences aren’t very big. I approach stories as stories whoever I write them for. My adult books often have children in them, and my children’s books often have adults in them, so I just change the focus of who tells the story – the adults or the children.

How did you get your big break? It’s difficult to say whether I’ve had a big break or not. I think I’ve had a series of small breaks – which makes me sound like I should be in hospital. My first break, though, was finding a great agent who loves my writing. I spent a lot of time sending letters and sample chapters to different agents until I found just the right one. She always gives me good but brutally honest advice about my books, which is sometimes hard to listen to, but helps me get better and better at telling stories.

Any advice for budding authors? Read, read, read. And then read some more! I really believe that the more a person reads, the better they will understand how stories and characters work. The other important thing is to write. It might sound obvious, but if you sit about, waiting for inspiration and dreaming about being an author, then you’ll never be an author. Writing makes you an author so … get writing!

Where is your favourite place to write? I sit on a small sofa in the corner of the sitting room. It’s not very glamorous but it’s comfortable and it’s the brightest, warmest room in the house. I put my laptop on a cushion and perch it on my knees and, you know what? It’s just about the best place in the world.

Have you ever wanted to do anything other than write? When I was very young I wanted to be a judge. I have no idea why. Then I wanted to be a vet until I saw Star Wars at the ripe old age of seven. After that I knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to be Han Solo. I was never any of those things, though, and by the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Nothing else would have been good enough. Apart from, perhaps, being Han Solo.

You can only read three books for the rest of your life, what would they be? Well, if you asked me this on another day I might give you a completely different answer but today I’m going to say Lord of The Flies by William Golding because it’s a brilliant story about children who find themselves in a terrifying situation without any adults to help them, The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway because it’s the classic tale of man versus nature, and The Go-Between by LP Hartley because it’s a summery, dreamy tale about a shy child who is thrown into an adult world that he struggles to understand.

Do you visit your local library? Really, I like to own books, because they’re such lovely objects to hold and look at, but, yes, I do visit my local library. I find the library especially helpful when I’m researching a book of my own and I’m looking for information about something in particular. Also, both of my children love to borrow books and they take part in the Summer Reading Challenge every year.

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Book Info


368 pages


Dan Smith
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Chicken House Ltd

Publication date

4th July 2013




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