If you like historical fiction, you will love this novel. It's not my usual genre, but I couldn't put this book down!
Students today will see many parallels between the polio epidemic of 1937-38 and their own experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic - the closure of schools, swimming pools and movie theatres, lack of socialising, and concern of anxious adults. However, our children did not receive their schoolwork via the radio, newspaper or mail during lockdown; and news in 2020 is reported much quicker. In 1937 not many households had a car or telephone, let alone several mobile phones!
Readers will be captivated by Tom and his sister Flo, and desperately hope that Flo will not succumb to death when she contracts infantile paralysis. Many will also relate to Tom taking refuge in running. What do they themselves find solace in when times get tough?
Several famous characters are briefly mentioned throughout the novel, and the extra information about them at the end of the book made interesting reading. Because of this, I was inspired to issue myself a book from our library about Paddy the Wanderer.
The photo gallery at the back of the book is also fascinating. Who would expect to see a line of children lying in their beds outside their care home in the sunshine?
Title: Enemy at the Gate
Author: Philippa Werry (includes teacher resources)
Publisher: Pipi Press
Date of Publication: First Edition published by Scholastic 2008, this edition published 2020
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? This story is centred around a disease which can cause paralysis and sometimes death, but is done so in a sensitive manner and although some deaths are mentioned they are not explored further. The character whom the reader becomes attached to, and contracts the disease, becomes paralysed but does not die. There’s mention that a dad may have drunk a lot, but no further details are given.
Reviewer: Nadine Molloy, Library Assistant, Remarkables Primary School, Queenstown
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? “This is it!” Charlie crowed. “This is the perfect spot! We are going to get them for sure! They won’t even know what hit them!”
You can buy this book here