30 Novels, day 11: War children


30 Novels, day 11: Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

I read this novel when I was in grade 5 or 6. Unlike the stern but fair librarian at the public library downtown, the librarian at my school was snappy and unpleasant. The library she guarded like a bulldog was a tiny little room, and maybe that cramped space had cramped her soul, I don’t know.

We were given time during the day to go to the library and pick out a book. We’d all hurry to the library because it was a break from the classroom, but long after my classmates had picked something out and gone, I would linger in that little room, going up and down the aisles and looking at all the books.

After a short time the librarian would grumpily shoo me out. “You’re just hanging around in here to get out of doing your schoolwork,” she snapped at me once. I thought that was so unfair. I actually wanted to be there. I wanted to be with the books.

I haven’t read Bawden's novel again since those days and I don’t remember a lot about it, nor do I have a copy on my shelves (Remembrance Day has reminded me I really should get a copy and read it again). I do remember that at the time I wasn’t much for what I thought of as “girl’s books,” but this novel had mystery and a cast of odd characters, and it gave me some sense of what it might have been like to a child in wartime. To be separated from one’s family and sent to live in a strange place, even one with the wonderful name of Druid’s Bottom.

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