When the Guns Fall Silent by James Riordan

When the Guns Fall Silent

Written by James Riordan

13+ readers   11+ readers   The World Wars   eBooks   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

In an excellent time-slip story, James Riordan brings the action and tragedy of the First World War vividly to life. Jack’s grandfather is a war hero with medals to prove it. But he will never talk about what he did and he refuses to come into Jack’s school to speak about it. On a visit to the war graves, Jack learns directly what it was like as he suddenly finds himself in another life - right back in 1914 where he is a young soldier in the trenches. In addition to the fighting, Jack’s dramatic experiences include that most famous and most extraordinary moment of the Christmas day football match held on No Man’s Land between the two sides.


When the Guns Fall Silent by James Riordan

Jack, standing among the war graves, sees a face he recognizes. Suddenly, it's 1914 again and he's a young lad back in the trenches. Visions of killing and misery come to him with horrible clarity. But then Jack remembers too the incredible moment when the guns fell silent for a short time, and fighting gave way to football on the frozen ground of No-Man's-Land. This amazing story, based on true facts from the First World War, will transport readers back to the war fields of France and show that even in times of conflict and extreme sadness, there is always hope.


This is a necessary, powerful, outspoken but ultimately healing book, something all young people born into more fortunate generations should read. The School Librarian

About the Author

James Riordan

James Riordan ( 10 October 1936 - 10 February 2012) grew up during the war in his chimney-sweep grandfather’s house in Portsmouth. After school he was a barman, waiter, railway clerk, commercial salesman, and dance band musician. During his National Service in the RAF he learned Russian and went on to become Professor of Russian Studies at Surrey University. Besides novels, he has written folk-tale collections, picture books and over 20 academic publications. His first novel for children, Sweet Clarinet, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and, like his other novels The Prisoner and When the Guns Fall Silent, is based partly on his own wartime experiences.

Riordan then produced a steady flow of anthologies of various kinds from across Russia and its near neighbours, acting as both collector and translator. He also diversified into other folk-story traditions, including The 12 Labours of Hercules (1998), which won the UK Reading Association award. His collection The Woman in the Moon and Other Tales of Forgotten Heroines (1985), including stories from Japan, Ghana, Sicily, Lapland and the UK, was celebrated for its strong female characters.

Breaking away from other people's stories, he wrote his first novel, Sweet Clarinet (1998), the touching story of a boy overcoming injuries sustained in the London Blitz through his love of playing music. Nine more novels followed; all have something of the folk tale about them in terms of a child overcoming adversity through courage and belief. Many, such as Rebel Cargo (2007), the story of children sold into slavery and his final novel, Blood Runner (2011), the story of a young black boy whose parents are killed by the South African police, carry strong socio-political messages. Russia never lost its appeal as a source of stories for him and he returned there with the setting of his penultimate novel, The Sniper (2008), which is based on the true story of a teenage marksman at the siege of Stalingrad.

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Book Info


176 pages


James Riordan
More books by James Riordan


Oxford University Press

Publication date

7th November 2013




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