Books by Michelle Magorian

JUST HENRY by Michelle Magorian
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

Henry lives with his mother, stepfather, Gran and little sister. He hates school and his stepfather, but he loves the memory of his hero dad, lost in the war. It's England 1949, a time of pinched poverty and low expectations, but Henry finds release in the cinema. Then things begin to change. A splendid teacher sets Henry to study film of 50 years before—and teams him with two other boys he loathes. Henry begins to see how Gran, his father's mother, persecutes his mum. An extraordinary local dame (there is no better word for her), Mrs. Beaumont finds a way to assist Henry and all his mates, as well as to gently open Henry's eyes to his own prejudices. The camera Mrs. Beaumont gives him enables Henry to discover a family secret that shocks him and soon endangers him and his friends. Clearly drawn heroes and villains, a wildly engaging cast of young people and older ones and all sorts of fascinating bits about movies, cameras, music and life in postwar England all make up this sparkling tale. (Historical fiction. 10-15)Read full book review >
NOT A SWAN by Michelle Magorian
Released: Aug. 30, 1992

The author of Good Night, Mr. Tom (1982) returns to WW II with a story about three genteel British sisters, on their own when the woman hired to care for them is suddenly drafted. Though Diana, 21, Lettie, 19, and protagonist Rose, almost 18, are also old enough for war service, their sheltered education has left them unprepared for practical tasks. Still, Mum (an actress performing for the troops) is out of reach, Dad has recently been killed, and—after dithering about impropriety—they seize the chance for independence. The primitive vacation cottage is a challenge; more significantly, village life awakens them to the realities of relations between the sexes in wartime. Diana makes friends with an unwed mother, to Lettie's horror; at first equally judgmental, Rose comes to champion the girl whose own parents have disowned her. Reading a diary account of the tragic WW I romance of their cottage's deceased owner, ``Mad Hilda''; observing Diana's sudden, deep love for a soldier on leave; her own clumsy first bedding with a callow youth who urges his suit on the grounds that he's sure to die soon—all prepare Rose for a sweet, more mature relationship with Alec, a shell-shocked Dunkirk hero who shares her literary inclinations. With a satisfyingly dramatic plot (including the reappearance as an adult of the child so cruelly wrenched from Hilda long ago), plenty of likable characters, an authentic, vividly evoked setting, and several contrasting love stories- -especially Rose and Alec's tenderly warming friendship—an unusually engrossing and memorable novel. (Fiction. YA) Read full book review >