Mohinder's War

By Bali Rai (Bloomsbury Education)

Mohinder's War By Bali Rai

Arjun's review
Warning: This review contains spoilers

Have you found your favourite book yet? Or are you still looking? If you are the latter, there is no need to look any further. ‘Mohinder’s War’ should be your next read!

Love, sacrifice, danger, death… are some of the themes covered herein. It begins decades after World War Two ended and through a story told by a fragile old woman. A young girl living in France had a happy life. Loving parents, sunny skies, and adoring friends. That was before the Nazis came. After that there were no singing birds in the morning, no more bright blue skies, no more tasty food. Just fear, death, and rigid bread. Joelle and her parents were in the resistance, ‘vive la résistance,’. It means, ‘Long live the Resistance.’ Then one day an Indian pilot in the RAF crash landed after being shot out of the sky. Joelle and her parents’ felt it was their duty to hide him. The pilot, Mo, was very interesting. He had great stories of his times in India and England to share with them and Joelle and he had an instant connection. Mo is my favourite character in the book. Joelle’s parents took a lot of risk by sheltering Mo. When the Nazis found out, they made sure Joelle’s parents paid for it. Joelle’s mother and father were taken away, to never be seen again. After that, Mo, Joelle, and her friend Beatrice were on the run.

From reading Mohinder’s War I learnt quite a few unexpected things. As an example, even though I knew about the British Raj in India, I had no idea that pilots from India were in the Royal Air Force during World War Two! Also, I found out that like Mohinder, Sikhs are forbidden to cut their hair and are only allowed to slightly trim their beards to prevent it from overgrowing. My favourite part of the book is when Joelle looks at Mo in awe, marvelling at his shooting skills and bravery, while he takes out several Nazis with his gun. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking an action novel. I could not stop reading it – it was ‘unputdownable’. I was so engrossed by the turns of events and danger that I just was not able to let go!

Oscar's review
This is a book about four friends trying to live through WWII. A man called Mohinder becomes the fourth friend because he crashed a plane and had to seek refuge. He was a young pilot working for the RAF. 

My favourite character is Mohinder because he says a lot about Sikhism. I learnt a lot about Sikhism.  He is a great character. I also learned that the Nazis took over France. I did not realise that they had done that.

My least favourite characters are the Nazis because they aim to kill all Jews.

I recommend this to all interested in WWII. It is an exciting, yet serious book. I would recommend it to everyone I see on the streets of Lancaster. 10/10 for sure, it blew me away.

Ellie's review
I think that “Mohinder’s war” is a great book. I like it because it gives us an insight on the war and what it was like for ordinary people and what they had to go through. I found Joelle quite an interesting character because we share a lot of the same personality traits, such as we’re both very determined and brave.

Also she is calm in stressful situations. There aren’t many characters which don’t like but, I don’t like the Germans at all. Especially, I don’t like the Germans who murdered Joelle’s parents. Generally, I didn’t learn a lot of things from this book except for how they lived during the world war. I am very interested in the World Wars so yes, this book’s time period did interest me. The plot was exciting because of the suspense and hoping that they don’t get caught.

I think that what stands out in the book is how quickly they agreed to helping out a stranger (the Indian man, Mo) because people were not as ready to accept them back then. I’d recommend this book to people who are interested in world war. This book was good, I liked how the friendship between Joelle and Mo was symbolising a father- daughter relationship.

Venaveer's review
Mohinder’s war is a war time book set in France in WW2.In this book a little French girl named Joelle meets an RAF pilot named Mohinder who has crashed his plane in the woods near her house together they go on a quest to hide him from the Nazis. This book I particularly enjoyed because it is set in WW2 which is a topic I particularly enjoy.

I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys war time fiction and adventure as this book has both genres. This book uses the scene where Mohinder and Joelle almost encounter the Germans and Joelle thinks Mohinder is dead to leave the reader in shock.

Hannah's review
This is a book about a girl called Joelle living in occupied France when a British plane crashes in a woods near to her abode and they save the soldier called Mohinder in side.

 A really shocking part for me was on a terrible day when she goes out on a walk with Mohinder the German soldiers secretly assault and kill her parents who have been betrayed by Vincent, which was a horrible surprise.

My favourite part is when they hide in the horse cart under the hay to try to get to the German airbase and they steal a German aeroplane, it was ingenious how they did it. It made me want to read more about WW2 which I began studying in Year 4 last year.   

Alizay's review
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it very interesting. One of the aspects that I liked was that the story was told from a child’s point of view and liked how I could see the war from the point of view from a child. Another aspect from the book, which I liked, was that it taught me some new things about the war which I hadn’t known. For example I liked how I had learnt that there were resistances that used to hide soldiers and pilots and refugees during World War 2.

Zainab's review
This was an interesting book of friendship and bravery. I found it an accurate depiction of WW2 and how the Germans invaded France. The emotions of the main character were realistic and the description was vivid of certain scenarios. I like the diversity within the book due to the fact there is a Sikh working together with a French young girl in order to survive. As with any World War Two inspired story, the book tackles the issues many children faced in their war torn country and it also shows all the risks children were put into and the pressure. It also shows the fact that their childhood was taken away. Joelle is a likeable character and shows great strength in the face of adversity, dealing with loss and the confusion of being exposed to war at a young age. I put myself in her shoes as she is a similar age and feel sympathetic for all she has gone through. Overall I would recommend this book as it is about the war, it is accurate and it tackles issues about how war never brings out any good, just loss and hatred.  

Lilly's review
My favourite character was definitely Joelle because of how many dramatic scenes she went through. Mohinder's granddaughter was told about how Joelle and Mohinder, (in the book his name was shortened to Mo) met. It made me a bit upset when some characters you really liked died or was abandoned. I really did not like Vincent he was the worst character in the book in my opinion. The best thing about the book was when they stole and crashed a bi-plane, from the Germans. I learned a French word (Vive la France) which I found out meant victory to France. I would of enjoyed it more if it had more detail to what the characters and scenes looked like but other than that I would recommend this book to other pupils. 

Sacha's review
I loved this book. I found Joelle and her Maman to be the most interesting characters. Maman was kind and helped people hide from the Germans. Joelle was strong and determined. I disliked Vincent because he was pretending to be helping the British and French but, really, he was working for the Germans.

I learnt a huge amount about India and how Indian citizens fought for the British during WW2 from this book. I learnt that World War 2 was a difficult to be alive, especially for those living in occupied France. The book really made me think about all the lives that were lost. I think not having enough food to eat would be very hard.

Joelle and her family learnt a lot about Sikhism through Mohinder, and that meant that I did too. I would definitely recommend this book to children aged 10+ and anyone who wants to learn about the contribution made by Indian people to the fight against the Nazis.

Max's review
This book is about a young girl (Joelle) who finds a British R.A.F. pilot who has crashed. Over time they become closer and closer as Joelle lets the pilot (whose name was Mohinder-Mo) stay in her house with other military members who she is hiding.

After the death of Joelle’s best friend and her parents (Maman and Papa) she decides it is time to leave the country. After a long journey to the airfield they steal a plane and go to England. As they were flying they got shot down and landed in England. Mo and Joelle where treated for their injuries and spent most of their time together.

My favourite part was the part where Joelle and Mo escape the airfield.

Improvements that could be made: The book only got interesting around the time where Joelle’s parents died, hence I think the author of this book should make this first half of this book a bit more interesting where a bit more is actually happening.

Yusuf's review
Mohinder’s War, written by Bali Rai, is a historical fiction story set in France during World War II. Thirteen-year-old Joelle Breton, who one day comes across the wreckage of a plane and meets Indian-born RAF pilot Mohinder Singh, who is the pilot. Joelle’s parents are members of the French resistance; they must keep them sheltered hidden from the Nazis.

One of my favourite genres to read is historical fiction. This is a heart-warming story, exploring how the strongest of bonds can be formed in some of the darkest hours. You are introduced to how everyday life was affected for those living under occupied Nazi rule, ransacked of liberty. Bali Rai’s writing is a perfect balance between simplicity and validity for the younger audience to grasp the realities of these events during WWII. Both the main characters, Joelle and Mohinder, are truly inspiring and show such bravery during a time where peril is found around every corner.

I was curious to see how Bali Rai will write a story about WW2; he had the right idea and flawless execution. This is a very interesting take on the occupation of France as typically authors may write about the life of the soldiers on the battlefield and is often how history is also taught. However, he chose the life of average citizens and paired it with a combatant from a different upbringing with the same goal. Two of the most intriguing protagonists co-operate. This what makes the plot exciting, serious, thought-provoking. All in one.

This is why I would highly recommend this book to avid readers, who fancy history or who want to take some time off the screen.

Mithu's review
The book is about an Indian English RAF pilot getting shot down in a destroyed French village.
I found Mo to be the most interesting character because he seems very mystical.
I did not like the German soldier.
From reading this book I learnt that Hitler is very demonic.
The history of the time it was set in was interesting because of the war.
I thought the plot was exciting and serious.
What stood out for me was that the main character was Indian, and he fought for the British. I related to this character and it was good to see him as a lead character.
I would recommend this book.
I learnt what the RAF was from reading this book, they were really cool.
In my opinion I found the book to be interesting and entertaining.

Arsham's review
I liked the old woman because she was very caring for Mohinder. I didn’t dislike any of the characters because they all had an interesting part in the story. I had knowledge on the story on this book (WW2). I did not find the time it was set in interesting because it is very common (WW2). This book (my opinion) was just serious. In my opinion I wouldn’t recommend this book because in the beginning it gets boring quite quickly and it runs out of detail.

Robert's review

  • Which of the characters you found most interesting and why? I found Beatrice interesting because she was so wanting to help Joelle and Mo in getting back to England after Joelle’s parents were killed. 
  • Which of the characters (if any) were not attractive – why? This man called Vincent. He betrayed his friends to the Germans and he was just not a very attractive character.
  • Did you learn anything new about the past from the book? I learned how tough life can really be in times of war, especially if you have no family left alive and you were all alone in the world
  • What made the history or the time it was set in interesting to you? I really like the world wars so this was quite interesting, perhaps that I don’t know as much about life in France than in Britain.
  • Is this a period of history you knew much about beforehand? Yes. I know quite a lot about this time of history because it’s my favourite period of time.
  • Was the plot exciting, thought-provoking, serious or light-hearted (or any combination of these)? Did this make a difference to whether or not the book was interesting/enjoyable to read? The book started off a bit slow for me but once Mohinder (RAF pilot) was found and it was discovered the Germans were looking for him.
  • Has the book inspired you or made you want to know more about anything? It has made me want to learn a bit more about life in France during World War II
  • Would you recommend it to other students – why? Is there anything you did not like about the book? I would recommend it to other students because it’s quite exiting and enjoyable.

Phu's review

  • Did you enjoy reading this book? Yes
  • Which of the characters did you find most interesting or did you like (or dislike) and why? Jollene - she was a French girl and she helped the enemy (RAF pilot). She was kind too
  • Did you learn anything new about the past from the book? That they rode spitfires and Hitler had lots of allies 
  • What made the history or time it was set in interesting to you? There was a lot of conflict and was a massacre
  • Was the plot exciting, thought-provoking, serious or light-hearted (or any combination of these)? It was she had committed a war crime helping the pilot
  • What most stands out from the book? The cover it tells me that it’s a war book and there’s a man and a child
  • Would you recommend this book to other students? Yes
  • Is there anything you didn’t like about the book? The cover kind of gives it away.

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