Rosie Raja: Churchill’s Spy / The Secret School Invasion

Rosie Raja: Churchill’s Spy
Sufiya Ahmed
Bloomsbury Education

Set in Word War 2 this is a thrilling read, a historical adventure that presents the oft-overlooked role of Indian people in the war and is told from the viewpoint of young Rosie, a strong-willed, brave Muslim girl who until early in 1941 lived in a palace in India, the princess daughter of an English father, a Captain in the British Indian army and an Indian mother. As the story opens her Mama has died and she’s in England with her father, unhappy about her new restricted village life and often left alone by her Papa.

So when she overhears a discussion between her Papa and his guests during which she discovers that he is about to depart for France to spy for the British government, she seizes the chance and stows away in his plane to occupied Paris. Her Papa decides not to send her back to England and Rosie finds herself surrounded by secrets, lies and spies; but Rosie is an eager, fast learner who is ready to give her all to the cause of what is right.

Vividly told, there’s action aplenty, much bravery and a betrayal. We also learn something of the Indian Independence movement including the role of women, in particular Rosie’s aunt, Rani-K, as well as the actions of those in the British Empire. An enthralling story and one that would make a wonderful class read for upper KS2 classes studying WW2.

The Secret School Invasion
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham
Nosy Crow

Always expect high drama when in the company of Izzy and her friends Jodi, Zach and Maisie. Now they are faced with yet another far out crisis: their school is to be amalgamated with St Balthazar’s, their ARCH-ENEMIES. Shock horror! Followed almost immediately by chaos and shortly after by the sound of marching feet and Mr Graves’ whisper of “They’re here. Save us all.”

In come the new pupils with their perfect blazers, shiny shoes huge creepy smiles. Even worse though is when our four friends enter their classroom and discover that sitting at their desks are four of the newbies. Let’s say that Miss Jones’s comment “… I know this isn’t ideal” does not go down well with Izzy et al. especially as it’s obvious that said teacher is actually freaking out at the present situation. So too are Izzy, Jodi, Maisie and Zach when they notice that four of the newcomers look pretty much identical to them. Time to call an urgent secret meeting.

But that is just the start of things: these new ‘Super Pupils’ definitely need investigating, if as it seems, they’re not just spying but planning on taking over the entire school. And that must be stopped at all costs.

As always Pamela Butchart shows to perfection the way her young characters allow their imaginations to run wild, conjuring up the most preposterous possibilities, possibilities that Thomas Flintham underscores in his zany illustrations that add another layer of crazy fun. A splendid, frequently hilarious, back-to-school read.

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