The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
Illustrations by Michael Foreman
Ages 8 and up
HarperCollins UK, 2005, 0-00-718245-7
Things are quite bad enough for Lily and her family. Because her father is off fighting the Germans in North Africa, Lily, her mother and her grandfather are having to take care of the farm by themselves. Then there is the rationing and having to cope with all the evacuees from London. When the people in her community are told that they are going to have to evacuate their homes, their farms, their businesses, their school and even their church, it is a terrible blow. It has been decided that their entire district is to be taken over by the army so that they can practice landings. It is hoped that the practices will stand the troops in good stead when they have to make the real push to take back Europe from Hitler and his armies. Lily's Grandfather says that he won't leave no matter what and she wonders how they are going to persuade the old man to change his mind.
In the end Grandfather accepts the fact that the planned practices are vital to winning the war and the entire family moves a few miles away to live with a relative. The entire family except for one vital member that is; Lily's cat Tips goes missing and no matter how hard she looks she cannot find her beloved pet. The idea of leaving the cat behind with all the bombs going off and guns being fired terrifies Lily, and she is determined to get Tips back even if it means that she has to sneak back to her old home by crawling under the barbed wire which now surrounds the village.
On one of her secret searches Lily runs into a pair of American soldiers, who chide her for taking such a risk and who promise to look for Tips for her. One of the soldiers becomes a very special friend to Lily. Indeed he makes a great impact on her life, an impact which spans the years and affects Lily when she herself is a grandmother.
This extraordinary book with its message of lasting love, courage, and fortitude is a sheer delight to read. Young readers will have no difficulty identifying with Lily who loves her cat, fears for the father, hates having her sweets rationed, and gets angry with the world when things go wrong. It is wonderful to discover that Lily the cat lover grows up to be a motorbike riding grandmother who never loses her ability to go on adventures and take risks.
Not only is this book incredibly entertaining and moving, but it is serves as tribute to the people who lived in the area of Slapton Sands in 1943 and who had to give up their homes so that the allies could practice for D-Day. It is a tribute to the soldiers who died during the manoeuvres and to those who never left the beaches in Normandy.
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