CONRAD'S WAR by Andrew Davies
Kirkus Star


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No plastic model of a typical kid, British Conrad crackles with energy on his first appearance--cracking his knuckles, kicking the radiators, standing on the table to get his vacant writer Dad's attention while he describes his plan to build a tank out of old bike wheels and such. The tank is splendid. Even Dad takes notice when Conrad, cool and competent at the controls, drives it through the living room wall. Next morning Dad reports as a dream the very scene Conrad remembers as real. Conrad then explains to his Dad about ""leaks"" in time, and before long Conrad has leaked back to World War II. He finds himself somehow equipped with all the necessary background and know-how, flying the very plane he's put together as a model kit. (""He wished he'd spent a lot more time on some of the details."") Aloft, Conrad is shocked at first to recognize his unresponsive navigator as the hollow plastic figure that came with the kit; and he is dismayed to find his Dad, inept as ever, in the role of rear gunner. But in true dream fashion, Conrad's dog Towzer pops up when needed, ready to take the controls. Then Conrad and his father are shot down and end up at Colditz (it's ""a lot like school""), where Conrad again ""shows"" the other listless prisoners, builds a glider on the roof, and pedals off with his Dad beyond the prison walls. There are some remarkable moments--as when Conrad and Dad tramp along in German uniforms; their left-right somehow fades into links-recht; and Conrad momentarily fears that he's becoming a German--before Conrad, home for good, relieves his parents by announcing that he's lost interest in war games. Davies writes with dazzling assurance and with a comedy writer's quick, observant sharpness (but not a stroke of gratuitous humor). Conrad's ""leaks"" back and forth and the parallels between the real and the fantasy worlds are handled beautifully, without a flutter of an eyelash. Winner of the 1978 Guardian award, and dynamite at all levels.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1980
Publisher: Crown