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The Jewels of Manhattan
I’ve just given my first talk on Cross My Heart to a classroom packed with 11 and 12 year olds and it was brilliant fun!
I showed them my power point, filled with excellent photos from war-time Belgium: Resisters setting bombs on a railway track, ration cards, girl fighters with guns, battered wooden radio sets, pages of code – and I told my enthusiastic audience all about life in an occupied country during the Second World War.
Then I fielded loads of questions.
The things the children found really interesting were: rationing and the prospect of having to eat bread made from chestnut flour and sawdust, not to mention nettle soup!
I showed them how the simple code works that’s used for secret messages in the story.
We also talked about all the people who were taken away: all the men in the armed forces who were in prison camps and all the able bodied men and women aged 17 to 35 who were sent to work in factories in Germany.
I wanted them to realise that children, young teenagers and much older adults were the only people who would have been left.
I also made them gasp a little at the prospect of 13 and 14 year olds being sent to work in the mines.
Cross My Heart is about a 15 year old teenage girl who joins the Resistance, so we talked about what the Resistance did and what terrible things could happen to members if they were caught.
We also discussed the difficult decisions the bombers had to make, especially if there was a danger of killing innocent civilians as well as soldiers.
I read aloud from the story – always a good test for an author: do the children look gripped? Or are they fidgeting and yawning?!
I think it must have gone well as there was a queue of readers anxious to get their hands on a signed copy at the end.
I’m going to be at schools in East Renfrewshire, Angus and Milngavie soon.
If you’d like me to visit your school, please send a request to Carmen@carmenreid.com and we’ll see if we can get it sorted!