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The Skylarks' War

Written by Hilary McKay

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LoveReading View on The Skylarks' War

Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year

Award winning Hilary McKay tells a captivating and deeply moving story of three young people growing up in the years before and during World War One. How their lives were totally changed by the War, how what really happened to the soldiers could never be talked about and how a girl like Clarry suddenly had opportunities because of the war are all touched on in a story that is also about universal adolescent relationships and the timeless concerns of being a teenager. Following their mother’s death at her birth, Clarry and her older brother Peter live a joyless life with their gloomy father. The pair live for their summer holidays in Cornwall with their grandparents which they share with their older cousin Rupert. Here, the trio are free to be themselves and to begin to break away from the constraints of family expectations. When war is declared Rupert enlists: his family is horrified and Clarry and Peter are left trying to work out where he might be, how they themselves should react to the war  and, above all, whether Rupert is safe. Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

Other Info

The Costa Judges said: ‘Chime, resonance and sparkle – a truly great read.’

Julia Eccleshare's Picks for January 2019:

Lark by Anthony McGowan

Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood

Dear Zoo Snuggle Book by Rod Campbell

Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy

Billly and the Minpins by Roald Dahl

Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay

The Skylarks' War Synopsis

Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018. The Skylarks' War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One, from the award-winning Hilary McKay. Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September - boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?

The Skylarks' War Press Reviews

Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive. - LoveReading4Kids.co.uk - November Book of the Month

The best children's book I've read this year' - Katherine Rundell

A moving family story. - The Week Junior

a funny, moving and emotionally insightful book that could, and should, be read by all ages - Daily Mail

The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay rivals Testament of Youth for delicacy and heart-wringing clarity in its portrayal of the home front during the First World War. - Independent

Quite simply, The Skylarks' War is close to perfect. Wise, kind, witty and incredibly moving it will break your heart and remake it again a few times over. - Scoop magazine

McKay is a superb writer, deftly spinning history into a family drama of emotional neglect, shameful secrets, unrequited love, loss and ultimate triumph over all of these in a funny, moving and emotionally insightful book that could, and should, be read by all ages. -- Sally Morris - Daily Mail

wise and kind and utterly heart-wrenching and full of characters you will give your whole heart to -- Anna James ...a family book, like those of Noel Streatfeild or R F Delderfield... I find it hard to imagine anyone not enjoying it. You will smile, and you will cry... You will recognise yourself and your friends -- Adele Geras McKay couples warmth and grace with wry humour like nobody else out there -- Katherine Rundell - The Guardian

Hilary McKay's novel is about love as much as war: the effect on children of being deprived of it and the beneficial results on adults of its persistence. McKay is incapable of writing an uninteresting character or a dull scene... I loved it. - Mary Hoffman

I thoroughly loved The Skylarks' War. The story is at once intimate and sweeping, with Clarry the shining heart of it all. -- Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, author of The War That Saved My Life What a brilliant book. I laughed, I blubbed. The painful jolt of the Great War to one family carefully told. - Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust

Winning as ever, with an overall Secret Garden feel - Kirkus Reviews

I laughed, I cried and I wanted all the characters to be my best friend - Natasha Farrant

One of my favourite books of the year, this is McKay at her absolute finest. -- Fiona Noble - Bookseller Children's Buyer Guide, Highlights of the Season

Hilary McKay is a genius. This beautiful book is so many things simultaneously: complex and subtle, beautiful and raw, timely and timeless. I never wanted it to end. -- Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, Carnegie-shortlisted author of The Smell of Other People's Houses Hilary McKay is one of the great writers of children's fiction and this story of love and loss during the First World War is one of her best, told with unflinching wisdom. -- Sarah Hughes - Independent, Best Children's Books for Autumn 2018

The Skylarks' War is bloody brilliant, the kind of classic that rings with beauty and conviction and heart-stopping emotion. Not read a novel this good since Eva Ibbotson died. -- Amanda Craig Hilary McKay is surely the heir to Mary Wesley. The Skylarks' War is just lovely. -- Charlotte Eyre, The Bookseller This is McKay at her finest, all the heart and warmth of the Casson family books - with a touch of the Cazalets. It's both a thrilling family adventure and a truthful, heart-breaking examination of the impact of war... [an] exceptional historical novel. -- Fiona Noble - Bookseller, Children's Book of the Month

This book is agony and ecstasy, and never have I read such a human and accessible account of World War I. Vivid, hilarious, and heartbreaking, Hilary McKay's radiant characters touch my heart like real people, friends and loved ones I know well. Possibly the finest writer of our time. -- Elizabeth Wein, New York Times-bestselling author of Code Name Verity and The Pearl Thief This belongs among the classic of children's literature . . . Funny, sad, warm, it is about growing up and finding what you love, intellectually and emotionally. - The Sunday Times, Children's Book of the Week

Picking up a book by Hilary McKay is like slipping on bed socks on a chilly night. She knows how to look after her readers by ensuring that her characters are interesting and loveable from the start . . . McKay's cleverness is that she makes it all fresh and new while making these beautifully drawn characters feel like old friends. - The Times, Children's Book of the Week

McKay is at her best in this poignant family drama. - The Guardian

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781509894963
Publication date: 27/12/2018
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781509894949
Publication date: 20/09/2018
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781509894963
Publication date: 27th December 2018
Author: Hilary McKay
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Julia Eccleshare's Picks, Star Books

About Hilary McKay

Hilary McKay won the Guardian Children's Award with her first novel, The Exiles. Her subsequent work has achieved similar recognition - The Exiles at Home won the Smarties Prize and Saffy's Angel won the Whitbread and was selected for the inaugural Booked up list. Most recently, the acclaimed Binny for Short was longlisted for the 2014 Carnegie Medal.. A graduate of Botany and Zoology from St Andrews University, Hilary now writes full-time. She lives in Derbyshire with her family. You can read her character Rose Casson's blog by clicking here - and Rose's tweets on the right hand side of this ...

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