The Swallows’ Flight

Publisher: Macmillan

Kate and Ruby, who become friends because of Clarry, their shared godmother (and Kate’s aunt), are two girls living in England in the interwar years.

Kate is the much-protected daughter of a pleasantly messy, friendly clan; Ruby is the only daughter of a widow. When they’re sent away from Plymouth to Oxford to avoid the bombing when World War Two starts, they find a new life with kindly, no-nonsense Mrs Morgan and her wonderful garden.

In 1930s Berlin, friends Erik and Hans are taken under Uncle Karl’s wing, who takes them out for drives in his speedy red sports car and gets them involved at the local airfield, where they start to learn about becoming pilots. All of this seems like huge fun until things at school start to change, and the spectre of war grows ever nearer. When Erik and Hans are conscripted into National Service, both find themselves training for the Luftwaffe.

Meanwhile, adults Clarry and Rupert (who readers may remember from The Skylark’s War) are secretly working for peace and a brighter future for everyone. How will the lives of the four young people come together during and after the war? And what effect will the war have on everyone?

Hilary McKay’s ultimately uplifting Second World War story is as full of brilliant characterisation as The Skylark’s War, reflecting the experiences of young people on both sides of the war. It’s an immersive and thoughtful read, perfect for confident readers towards the end of primary school or perhaps in years 7 or 8.

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