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This unnotable Carnegie Medal winner (1978) is set during World War II in Exeter, a target for the Germans' ""Baedecker raids"" against towns with historic cathedrals or other architectural treasures. Concentrating on Colin, a schoolboy in his early teens, and switching from one family member to another, Rees takes the fairly ordinary Lockwoods through a particularly shattering raid. Early that evening, Colin is enlisted to serve snacks and sherry at a silly fashion show given by the expensive shop his mother helps manage. But he has left his school jacket in the cathedral tower (his father is a verger there) and so views the raid from the battlements--knocked about by the impact when the cathedral is hit and later grazed by a tail-gunner's bullet. His lovesick older sister watches her boyfriend go off to war without leaving her a sign or commitment. Younger sister June and their father take shelter at home and witness the collapse of half their house. And the fussbudget mother, stuck in the dress shop lift when the building falls in, is briefly hospitalized as a result. In the end we hear ""one cheer for Hitler"" from Colin, who has come through the blitz with a new friend, a new sense of independence, and a determination ""not to let the gate of life shut on him ever again."" Colin's adolescent dawning is nicely conceived, and Rees wrings some suspense from the various Lockwoods' proximity to the action. But he has initially sketched them all so flatly and placed them so mechanically that the involvement is situation-deep.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1980
Publisher: Elsevier/Nelson