Friday, September 11, 2009

Dear Alison by Simon Pollard

Dear Alison is the diary of a soldier, Dudley Roberts Muff, who was captured in the Crointh Canal during a retreat from Crete, during the second World War. This beautifully produced book is a diary which he wrote for his niece, Alison. Alison was only a little girl at the time but he was very fond of her. Dudley was captured and sent to Stalag 383 and various other camps during the time he was captured and to entertain himself, and to tell the story of his life in the camps this diary was kept.

The book is full of Dudley's drawings, stories of what the soldiers did, tales of activities the soldiers made up to keep their spirits up, there are stories of illness, escape, prison dogs, diagrams of the buildings in the camp and fantastic descriptions of the guards and the other prisoners. I loved the mentions of the prison food, 'cabbage water' features prominently! Parcels which arrive to the camp are vividly described, and the makeshift teapots and other equipment made from whatever the men could get their hands on.

This book is so beautifully written, and because he was writing it for his niece it has the feel of a very serious story being told so that a child can understand it but not be frightened. It is a fantastic book and would make a great present for an older person who is interested in stories of war, or a teenager who enjoys realistic stories of war and of history. This book made me laugh and cry and I think it will appeal to people of all ages. I took this book to show my Mother and she loved it. The extra bits giving the story of the rest of Dudley's life were fascinating, and the beautiful end papers give the book a real 'feel of it's time'. Read it you'll love it I guarantee it!

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