The Forgotten Pearl, by Belinda Murrell

Two days later, Poppy was asleep in her room when she was woken by a dreadful wailing. It took her a few moments to realise that the piercing sound was real and not just part of her dream.
Poppy’s heart pounded; her muoth was dry with fear. Her cotton nightdress and sheets stuck to her sweaty skin….
‘Girls,’ Cecilia hissed from the doorway, ‘get up quickly. It’s the air-raid alarm.’

When Chloe has to research the Second World War, she doesn’t think her grandmother will have a lot to share with her. After all, Nanna was in Australia during the war – and the war was fought overseas. Wasn’t it? But Nanna decides it is time to talk about her experiences.

In 1941, Poppy lives comfortably with her parents and sister in Darwin, far removed, they think, from the horrors of the war. But when Japan enters the war, suddenly Australia is at threat – and Darwin, in the north, is a target. Poppy must grow up quickly, as she witnesses firsthand the horrors of war.

The Forgotten Pearl is a wonderful dual narrative, with Chloe talking her to her Nanna in the present, and Poppy (Nanna as a child) experiencing the war in 1941. This allows the reader to see the contrast in times, and to consider the long term impact of the events of war as not just isolated in the past. The attacks on Darwin and other parts of Australia during the Second World War have often been downplayed, but author Murrell explores them in a way which makes them very real for young readers.

Recommended for readers in upper primary and lower secondary.

The Forgotten Pearl

The Forgotten Pearl, by Belinda Murrell
Random House, 2012
ISBN 978174275369

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