I read Kit Pearson’s The Sky is Falling when I was nine, and I could barely put the book down! The story takes place during WWII. The young female character, Norah Stoakes, is a ten-year-old from Kent, England. She and her little brother, Gavin, are sent to Toronto, Canada for safety until the end of the war. They go to live with the wealthy Florence Ogilvie and her grown daughter Mary. Norah finds out they only wanted to care for a boy. They welcome Gavin warmly but tolerate Norah. Florence wants Gavin to “replace” her deceased son. This gives reference to society’s preference throughout history for boys over girls.
Norah is independent and has her own mind. She worries about her family back in England and finds it difficult to fit in at her new school in Toronto. Her schoolmates tease her for being a coward by leaving all the “excitement” in England. She becomes friends with a German-Canadian boy who is also made fun of at school because of his heritage. The Ogilvies forbid the friendship. Norah feels so displaced that she takes Gavin and runs away to the train station, trying to go back to England. She doesn’t succeed and goes back to the Ogilvies.
No, Norah isn’t doing anything heroic during WWII. She’s a normal girl dealing with normal struggles. What I like about Norah is that she seems so real. She isn’t perfect. She isn’t always happy. She doesn’t always have nice things to say or love her little brother all the time. A lot of girls can relate to this. Throughout the story, Norah learns to adapt to and nurture her new life. This is like many girls had to during WWII, and like girls continue to do today after moving to a new place. Norah’s character shows that girls are strong and can conquer their fears.
As the first novel in Kit Pearson’s The Guests of War trilogy, I recommend The Sky is Falling. Young girls and boys get to learn about WWII and the emotions children go through during a time of war. The second, Looking at the Moon, and third novels, The Lights Go On Again, are great reads too.
Girl Museum Inc.