Stay Where You Are and Then Leave
By John Boyne
Grades 5 and Up
Genre: Historical Fiction
One of my all-time favorite movies as a child was, The Little Princess starring Shirley Temple and this book brought back those fond memories. If you are older like me, you might remember that Sarah (Shirley Temple) has been searching hospitals for her father who has been reported killed in action in World War I. But, Sarah knows in her heart he is not dead and the wicked boarding school mistress cannot stop her from sneaking out and looking for him. So, I searched online and found the four-minute ending to the movie—sweet memories. To my surprise I see YouTube has the entire movie—here’s the link in case you want to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDyX3wsVLxw
As I was saying, John Boyne’s book has a similar theme! Alfie will never forget his 5th birthday—it is the day his father, Georgie enlisted in World War I. He thought if he enlisted he might have better duty than if he got drafted. Alfie’s life changed forever on that day—his mom had to get two jobs so they could keep their house and have food to eat, Alfie cuts school to secretly become a shoe shine boy and the world engaged in war that was supposed to last for six months and ended up lasting for over four years and three months—which seemed like forever for Alfie. Letters from Georgie came regularly for a while, then not so often and then not at all. Alfie’s mom said that Georgie was on a secret mission and could not write but Alfie now nine, knew better. Alfie, like Sarah from The Little Princess took on a mission to find his father. I enjoyed the book and I hope students will have a sense of how difficult times were when young men go off to war.