When The Sky Falls by Phil Earle

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

The Blurb

1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?

Inspired by a true story.

The Review

An hour after I had finished reading When The Sky Falls, I was still sat ,book in one hand, tissues in the other, stunned by the story I had just finished. It is sublime storytelling, deeply moving and a lesson in the healing power of love, and one I won’t do justice to in my review.

From the very beginning, we see a very angry young boy thrown together with a woman who is sharp, abrupt and clinical, until we see her with Adonis, the great ape at her zoo. Much like Joseph, I was intrigued by her ability to love an animal yet keep her ward at arm’s length.

The characterisations are superb, not only do you feel as though you know the characters, but that you are there with them walking the streets of war torn London, as the smells of destruction and dung rise from the pages. Such is the power of Phil’s writing, I felt all of the emotions from fear, anger and sadness to simple joys and sheer elation as I read. As unlikeable and unmoving as Joseph and Mrs F present themselves, you quickly see beneath the façade to the pain beneath and empathise with them both, willing them to let their walls down.

A must for every school. It would make an inspiring and emotional class read whether covering WWII or not. It is, quite frankly, one of the best books I have ever read. Joseph’s story will stay with me for a very long time.

Great for fans of:

  • Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
  • The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr