Published October 8th 2015 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks (first published October 1st 2015)
Synopsis: The powerful new novel from the master storyteller – inspired by the true story of one man who might have stopped World War II.
1940. The train is under attacks from German fighters. In the darkness, sheltering in a railway tunnel, the stranger in the carriage with Barney and his mother tells them a story to pass the time.
And what a story. The story of a young man, a young soldier in the trenches of World War I who, on the spur of the moment, had done what he thought was the right thing.
It turned out to have been the worst mistake he ever could have made – a mistake he must put right before it is too late…
My Review: This is a based on a true story, historical fiction book for middlegrades and up. Barney and his mother are traveling on a train when it needs to hide in a tunnel to avoid bombing by the German planes overhead. With them in their car is a stranger who proceeds to tell them an amazing story about Private Billy Byron. This character is based upon a real soldier from WWI by the name of Private Henry Tandy. The story he tells is of his friend Billy and all the wonderous and amazing things he did in the war that earned him several medals. He also told of the German soldier “Fritz” as they were all called, that he let go at the end of the war. He did not want to kill one more person. Would his decision come back to haunt him?
This was a relatively quick read and one that I didn’t want to put down once I got past the first chapter. The character of Billy was so well written, it was as if you knew him. This is a great story to read with children ages 10 and up. The discussions you could have, the predicting and alternate endings if things had been different are sure to elicit fantastic conversations and ideas. A must read for history students learning about the World Wars. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.