When the Sky Falls

Phil Earle (Andersen Press)

When The Sky Falls

Review by Zainab
I feel as though this book was extremely heart-warming and devastating at the same time. I really enjoyed reading this book as it helped me with my own writing as it was very interesting to see how the author got the reader to feel completely opposite emotions at the same time.

Based on such horrible true events in the history of WW2 but making the story more fictional and about a sweet friendship between both the boy and the gorilla really shows the effects of the war but what positive consequences it had. Despite this heart-warming affection towards this relationship this book was really sad at the same time showing the hardships and unfortunate truths of the war. It is overall a rollercoaster of emotions and was extremely well written based on the true events.

Review by Grace
I would recommend this book because it changes the way you look at life and past history. I will be honest and say that this book took me some time to get stuck into. I almost did not read this book as it just looked like a normal book about an ape, but I soon found out it is much more. 'When the sky falls’ is a very emotional book with a very emotional ending. I always thought books are just pieces of paper, but this book was much more, and the story line is very creative. My favourite character was Joseph as I could relate to him as being moody and angry. It has things from the present and past. It was very educational about the past and life back then. I learnt that things are not always as they seem, and you never know what a person is going through. As I said, the plot was very exciting and creative. The thing that stands out most is the ape in the zoo called Adonis. I liked watching him grow as a character and find out more about him even though I know he is an animal. The only negative thing I would say about this book is that if you have trouble getting stuck into a book then this one is quite challenging to do that. In conclusion I would recommend this book.

Review by Malia
I have quite enjoyed reading the book, When the Sky Falls, and would definitely recommend it to another student. It is about a boy named Joseph who was sent to go live with a strange woman called Mrs F who couldn’t care less about Joseph and only took him in because she made a promise to his grandmother a while ago. Before World War II, Mrs F’s family had owned a zoo, which was thriving but now it only has a few animals which includes a mighty silverback gorilla named Adonis (who Joseph doesn’t take a liking to at first). So, as the bombs rain down in the sky Joseph has to learn how to live in this new foreign place away from the life and the people he used to know.

The history of the time the book is set in (World War II) is so interesting to me because most people, including me, only know the facts and statistics. Sometimes we forget that people have actually been through this and children have had to witness the world wars and see the destruction, and live in fear in case there is an air raid or something which could destroy their home that they have grown up in. This makes it so thought provoking because as a reader it makes us think and sympathize with Joseph because of what he is going through even if he is portrayed at the start as quite a naughty child, who even his own grandmother couldn’t take care of.

Review by Helena
When I began reading ‘When the Sky Falls’, the first thing that jumped out at me, was how in-touch the reader felt with the characters, they weren’t just words on a page, you could feel what they felt, be it: anger, embarrassment or joy. This detail made the story hard to put down. As well as this, the protagonist – Joseph – was quite interesting, and the relationships he held with other characters, were wonderfully human, and as a reader I found that the time period of this book did not change the relatability, therefore, still allowing the modern-day readers to resonate with these characters. On the other hand, ‘The Twyford’s’ (neighbours who frequently used the shelter in Joseph’s backyard) made a bad impression from the moment that they were introduced. Mainly due to their ungrateful attitude. For example, they were happy to use their neighbours’ shelter, and yet, wore their distaste for the courteous hosts shamelessly on their faces.

As for the plot, I found myself lured in, eagerly turning pages, despite what seemed a rather plain and obvious ending, the role of Adonis the silver-back gorilla made it surprisingly interesting and opened my eyes to a new perspective of evacuee life. Enticing me to stories of the very different experiences of evacuee children, who as this story has shown me, can be incredibly different. For, I’d read stories before, with similar themes, and yet, I’d never thought about the fate of the animals, or at least not those in the zoo, or where they’d end up when war started, and the bombs began to fall. After all, you couldn’t exactly take them to an air-raid shelter. This element also played a part in making the story heartfelt, a theme that only brings a reader closer to the story.

Because of these details, I would recommend this book, to give others the opportunity to read about this interesting side of evacuee life. However, I myself would not read it again, for although I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t particularly life-changing, nor is it my favourite book, but I believe that it was still worth reading.

Review by Rachael
I think this book is a really good book because of the way it's written, it shows how different the characters are and their personalities. My favourite character has to be Mrs F because at first she seems like a really bossy or pushy person but once you get to know her properly, she’s actually a really thoughtful and caring person.

From this book, I learnt that and realised just how chaotic things were during World War Two. Having studied it, I knew it was pretty bad but the way the author described how bombs were exploding it made me see a new side to it and feel what people felt at the time. This book being set in WW2 made it very interesting seeing as you get to see what people had to regularly go through and how tough it is. The most exciting plot had to be Joseph being protected by Adonis the gorilla. This showed how not all big animals are wild, tough beasts but also caring and loving animals too. I would definitely recommend this to other people because it's so interesting and you get to see what happens in the war when you don’t get evacuated.

Review by Riley
This was an amazing and interesting book. I loved the monkey because it was so interesting – it acted as if it was a human! I wasn’t keen on Mrs F because she was so strict and mean to Joseph – she didn’t let him do things like go outside when he wanted to.

The book taught me a lot about the war. I was really shocked by how many bombs fell – and how many fell on houses and cities. I was amazed that Joseph’s parents protected Joseph when the bombs fell. This meant that he survived but his parents died. Mrs F took Joseph in, which was a kind thing to do, but she was rather strict with him.

I thought the whole plot was really thought-provoking and very exciting. Joseph’s life was very hard.

What most stands out for me about this story is the difficulties people had during World War Two. Joseph’s life was hugely difficult. I learnt lots of facts about the war and was really surprised to learn that children still went to school, even when the bombs were dropping.  When the bombs fell, they simply crawled under their desks!

I think everybody who enjoys reading and history will like this book.

Review by Poppie
This book was so intense and sad, whilst also managing to be light-hearted at times. I was extremely sad when the ape died. Joseph’s life was horribly hard but I learnt that, despite so many hardships, the children did many normal, everyday things. They still went to school and Joseph was a bit of a mischievous scamp. The book taught me lots about the war. I wanted to read it because I’d heard about World War 2 but this really showed me what it was like to live through it. It was complex at times, and I got rather confused at certain elements because there was so much happening, but it was great. I’d recommend it to any children who like reading long, complex books about history.

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