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Review: The Messenger Bird by Ruth Eastham

The Messenger Bird by Ruth Eastham
Published by Scholastic

Nathan's father has been arrested. He works for the Ministry of Defence and is accused of leaking top secret information. But as he is dragged into a police car, he gives Nathan a message. It leads to a riddle, but it's not from Dad. It's from an ex-Bletchley Park employee, Lily Kenley, and was written in 1940. Nathan begins to follow the clues left behind by Lily. But how can this war-time story link to his father's fate? Hope for Dad's appeal is fading fast. He must solve the puzzle. Time is running out.


The Messenger Bird is everything I have come to expect from a Ruth Eastham novel after reading and enjoying her first novel The Memory Cage last year. The book intertwines a modern day narrative with historical ideas and events, it has a main character you warm to and engage with and a storyline which is full of heart. I really enjoyed reading it.

I enjoyed this book in three different ways:

As a reader of a wide variety of YA I enjoyed it as it was pacey with some interesting twists and characters that I enjoyed getting to know. It was a real page turner and kept me hooked throughout. I particularly enjoyed the main character Nathan and enjoyed seeing how his mind worked. I also loved the relationship he had with his best friends Josh and Sasha. Josh in particular made me chuckle quite a lot throughout the book.

The Historian in me loved the links back to the Second World War made in this book. I loved the historical mystery to this as much as the present day one if not more and got drawn into the story of Lily and Bletchley Park. Now I've finished the novel I really want to go off and find out more about the place and visit Coventry and find out more about how it suffered during the Blitz.

As a teacher I think this book could be invaluable. I think the mix of modern and historical will draw pupils in to the subject matter really effectively and leave pupils in much the same way I was after reading the book and be the spark that sets them off finding out more about the historical events. All too often historical fiction can seem to dry or too far removed to draw pupils in but I think this book would draw them in wonderfully. This book is certainly going to be one I recommend to pupils for enrichment when we are studying World War Two.

All in all a brilliant book which I really enjoyed!


M said…
This one sounds good, I'll keep an eye out for it.