The Swallows' Flight

Hilary McKay (Macmillan)

The Swallow's Flight

Review by Mollie
The Swallows' Flight by Hilary Mckay is a great book about two German boys and two English girls growing up during WW2. I think this is really interesting because most books I’ve read about World War 2 have been telling the story of English people or Jewish people that had to escape Hitler rather than people actually fighting for the Nazis. I liked this because it showed that not all Germans believed in what they were fighting for and not all of them were inherently bad just because they found themselves fighting on the Nazi side. Erik and Hans don’t believe that what they are doing is right but they are almost forced into flying the planes.

I especially enjoyed Erik’s slight eccentricity and from the first page you are drawn into his character with him buying dead flies from his classmates to feed baby birds. I think the contrast of his nature and his dreams with the world and the life that he is pushed into increases your empathy with him because although they fly planes and bomb England, Erik and Hans are both still quite young and still dream of owning a zoo in Berlin.

I thought that including the dog’s point of view as well as each of the children was eye-opening and because he was treated so badly, it is heart-warming when he is shown kindness. I also loved the way each of the characters lives intertwined as the book went on: it seems like a very well thought out plot and storyline. The only negative thing that I can think of is that sometimes, because every chapter switches character, once you’ve become more invested in a person, it moves on to the next so that occasionally it gets a bit frustrating that you can’t know what happens until you finish the next chapter.

Both books have the ability to make you smile and laugh but also to cry and they carry all the emotions exceptionally. I think all her books are written very well and I would recommend them to anybody. Although both of her books that I have read are about the war, they are both unique and worth a read. The Swallows’ Flight is an uplifting story filled with difficulties, love, friendship and every so often, a small amount of death and pain.

Review by Zainab
This book kept me captivated all the way through. I especially loved the idea of a range of multiple perspectives all living completely separate lives yet all linked together with one key reason that changed the world; war. Although I enjoyed the many perspectives I do think at times it was difficult to understand and follow at some parts of the book but nonetheless I enjoyed it and really felt involved and at one with the characters as a reader. The story is from the perspective of the lives of four children growing up before, during and after the consequences of World War Two. I have not read the prequel, The Skylarks’ War but I can say that I may have enjoyed and understood Swallows Flight a bit more if I had read this prequel as well.

Review by Mariam
Characters: Erik and Han (Berlin) – friends that have known each other from the beginning of the book. Ruby (Devon, Plymouth) was born with birthmarks on her face. Has a brother named will. Kate (Oxford)  she is part of the Penrose children with her siblings Janey, Bea, Simon and Tod (Rupert) and Charlie. Although, Tod isn’t related to the Penrose children. Kate often catches illnesses really quickly and often gets left out of family activities. Dog (scrapyard, East London) doesn’t have any owners at first and lives in the scrapyard where people would often hit him.

The book is about the two sides of the war, so it’s set in both Berlin, Germany and England. It takes two perspectives of the war and tells the differences in life between Erik, Hans, Ruby and Kate. Historically, it mentions topics such as how children, like Kate and Ruby, had to evacuate their city homes to the countryside to avoid things like bombs. The book also talks about the treaty of Versailles and how the Germans thought that the causation of the war was not their fault and having to pay back was not the right decision on their part. In the book it describes Erik and Hans to be against Hitler and his decision.

I liked the different perspectives of this book and the different characters in this book. I also liked the ending when all the characters were brought together. The story would be easy for younger children to read as it puts the war into perspective, of not adults, but children. The overall writing structure of the author gave off writing skills like other books such as “little women”. The author did this by not having a clear and concise plot to go off by but instead focused on the coming of age theme.

However, for some the book may have dragged on a bit by not having a proper plot and something for the reader to look forward to. At some points the story tended to drag on and was dry. With every chapter changing into a different character it was often hard to keep up.

Review by Muhammed
The Swallow’s Flight is a book based on the presence and looming threat of World War II, which is a particularly interesting time period for me. The most fascinating part was the variety of characters; they didn’t all know each other, and in fact there were several stories going on at once! The range of characters and storylines makes it easier for me to catch up on pieces of extracts and have multiple times the enjoyable amount of reading, which is amazing.

Now mentioning the actual history in the book, it is based on historical events; with World War I having just ended, only to find out another one was arriving. The settings took place in Germany and England, which gave two viewpoints of World War II. Although the book was captivating, the plots were extreme but that is honestly not affecting me since I do not enjoy plots as much as factual detail. The key parts about the book for me are the story of Will and Ruby, which is derived from the hatred between brothers and sisters, but the entertainment develops from Will who is just as badly behaved and delusional as Ruby, but they experience the same devastating losses of their family because of the after effects of the World War.

Review by Amy
I really liked The Swallow's Flight by Hilary McKay. It is set in WWII which is one of my favourite time periods to read about. Something I really liked about The Swallow's Flight was the fact that it gave two different perspectives of the war, one being a family who lived in Germany and another who lived in England. I especially liked the Grandad who lived in England, I thought he was quite mysterious. However I thought this book was quite slow to start and people could get easily confused with all the switching between characters. Overall I would give The Swallow's Flight 4 out of 5 stars.

Review by Stella
5 stars. Ok, this book is really good. I loved how there were lots of different points of view, but they all came together and linked up in the end. I really liked the characters of Erik and Hans, because I liked seeing things from a German point of view. They were Luftwaffe pilots BUT they didn’t support Hitler, at least I don't think so. I also liked how, although there are a lot of books set in WW2, it felt different to all of them.

Weirdly, I didn't expect to, but I really liked the 'dog' bits. It showed something I've never really thought about, how animals interpreted the war. Even though nothing really major happens until near the end, the book is gripping the whole way through. I loved the drama and also the dynamics between the characters and the major event was very exciting. Finally, reading books like this makes me really think about how long the war actually was, I loved how everything came together in the end but I think maybe it could have been explained a bit slower.

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