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The Skylarks War

The Skylarks' War

Published: 27 Dec 2018

Paperback / softback, 320 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Hilary McKay

Published by Pan Macmillan

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Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018. The Skylarks' War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One.

Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September - boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?

An evocative and heartbreaking novel of family and friendship in wartime from the award-winning author of the Casson Family Chronicles.

This title features in our Reading Gladiators™ selection.

Tagged First World War and growing-up

Hilary McKay joined me in The Reading Corner to talk about her stunning novel The Swallows' Flight, sequel to The Skylarks' War. Listen here:

Reviewed by Sam Keeley

The Skylarks’ War is another triumph for a favourite author of mine. Hilary McKay has a gift for creating characters that you want to share your life with and the effervescent Clarry is no exception. She lives with her emotionally absent father who is always extremely busy (doing nothing) and older brother Peter resisting his inevitable banishment to boarding school. Summers spent unleashed in Cornwall are what they live for, especially the company of their wonderfully charismatic cousin Rupert. The onset of World War One changes everything for worse as well as better.

Since first meeting The Exiles as a trainee teacher, and later the lovable and eccentric Casson Family, I have been a fan of Hilary McKay’s incisive writing about family life. She depicts everyday life with hilarity in stories suffused with warmth and believable dialogue. The Skylark’s War is no exception, and the writing had my tears of sorrow intermingled with tears of joy. I defy any reader not to fall in love with every one of these characters.

Daniel Pennac claims one of the rights of the reader is ‘to mistake a book for real-life’, and I make no apology for doing so with this gem of a read. I am very much looking forward to the sequel The Swallows’ Flight to enable me to continue with Clarry on her journey through life.

The Skylarks’ War is an essential addition to any top junior class library and perfect for older readers (adults included) too. A book to nudge readers towards who have enjoyed Jacqueline Wilson, Emma Carroll and Helen Peters. 

Sam is Director of Learning Programmes at Just Imagine.