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The Skylarks' War: Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award

Hilary McKay


  • Friends & Family - tears and laughter, and happy ever after
  • History Time - blasts from the past

Average rating

5 out 5

Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award. The Skylarks' War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One, from the award-winning Hilary McKay. Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war? 'This belongs among the classic of children’s literature . . . Funny, sad, warm, it is about growing up and finding what you love.' – The Sunday Times, Children’s Book of the Week


I loved this book. Hilary McKay's characters are so well-drawn and realistic that by the end, they felt like friends I would miss. Clarry, the central character, shines with such kindness and goodness but isn't dull or irritating with it - she is smart, funny and an unwitting feminist. This might be quite long for a class read, but I know that lots of children would be swept up in it. It paints the era with accuracy and doesn't shy away from the horrors of the First World War, even though it's described with a light touch to be age-appropriate.


I loved it! What a saga. I really liked Peter - his father's influence pervaded everything he did, for good or bad. I would read this to Y6, simply because of the description of war injuries.


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