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When the Sky Falls

"A powerful story of friendship against the odds inspired by real events in World War II "

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | Shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022

No wonder he is angry! Bombs are raining down on the city that Joseph is sent to as an evacuee. And anyway, who came up with the stupid idea that he should live with Mrs F. who doesn’t even like children! He knows he should just run away but where would he go? Instead, he finds himself inexorably drawn into Mrs F‘s life and the zoo and the animals she is fighting to keep safe – in particular, Adonis, the powerful silverback gorilla. Every night when the bombs fall, Mrs F rushes to the zoo. She risks her life to be with her animals safe knowing that, if the very worst happens and the zoo is bombed she will have to take exceptional and radical action. Will she be brave enough? And would Joseph be? In this deeply moving story of Joseph’s journey of self-discovery Phil Earle not only tells a brilliant story of a child’s emotional development but also added an important and true dimension to World War 2 stories.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

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Reader Reviews

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This is a beautiful book that has the right amount of every emotion included within the stunning cover of this wonderful book.

When The Sky Falls is a novel about an angry boy who is evacuated to a city in northern France. There he is taken in by Mrs F whose family has owned a Zoo for generations, but all the animals have been moved to safer zoos in the countryside only leaving some tropical fish in the garden pond, two skinny wolves, a camel or two and a silverback Gorilla called Adonis. 

This is one of the best books I have ever read about the second world war and one of the best books I have ever read in general as well. It is a beautiful tale and has just the right amount of funniness in it to suit the theme and setting of the story. It also has enough sadness in it as well.

Lottie Clark

During WWII, Joseph is sent to live with Mrs F. He makes friends and grows close to a mighty silver backed gorilla who helps him with a bully.

This book is about a boy called Joseph who is sent to live with Mrs F during WWII in Britain. Joseph and Mrs F are both similar; they are irascible and they have both lost someone they love. Joseph finds his new school difficult, especially reading class. His teacher, Miss Doherty is nice to him but Mr Gryce the headmaster wants the school to be perfect and he will do anything to achieve this, even using the dreaded cane on the children. Mrs F owns a zoo and Joseph becomes good friends with the gorilla, Adonis. How far will their friendship go? Will Adonis survive the war?

My favourite part is when Mrs F is invited to school for the monthly test, I liked her reaction to Mr Gryce who is very strict.

Isabella Tse

I think Phil Earle has done a very good job with this book, because he has a very unique style. I especially loved his way of sliding in happiness and some funny parts with some moments of real misery.

A gripping story based on real life events during World War II. An anger-filled boy is relocated to the city, where danger is everywhere. There, the boy is housed by Mrs F, whose only care is for the rundown zoo she owns and Adonis, its most amazing inhabitant. As bombs fall and bonds deepen, they need to find a way to let go of everything they've lost and learn to accept what they now have. However much they don't want to.
I have read a lot of World War II fiction and find it hard to relate to it because I don't have a reference point - I've never seen a bomb detonate, for example. This book however, is different, because it isn't just about the war, it has a moving storyline, and I loved the gorilla.

Rowan Helsby