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By Chris Priestleyauthor and freelance writer

From ancient myths to World War II, author, Chris Priestley, reviews a selection of historical fiction books…

Hannah Goslar Remembers

Hannah Goslar Remembers by Alison Leslie Gold (Bloomsbury, £5.99 PB)

Suitable for: boys, girls, older readers, more able readers and for reading aloud.

The very best children’s books are often about friendship, and this book has a very special one at its core: the friendship between Anne Frank and Hannah Goslar. Anne is a ghostly presence throughout the book, disappearing early on only to tragically reappear in the harrowing concentration camp section at the end. The inevitability of Anne’s fate does not make it any less heartbreaking, but the resilience of Hannah is an inspiration. Any writer approaching such a subject has a huge responsibility to those involved, and Alison deserves enormous credit for bringing us Hannah’s story and for doing it so well.

The Hound of Ulster

The Hound of Ulster by Malachy Doyle (A&C Black, £4.99 PB)

Suitable for: boys, girls, younger readers and for reading aloud.

The blurb describes this as a ‘well-known’ tale, but one of the strengths of Malachy’s book is that the myth of Cuchulainn is not so well-known outside of Northern Ireland. This is the story of the boy, Setanta, who dreams of being a Red Branch Knight. Through his strength and courage, he becomes known as Cuchulain – the Hound of Ulster – and a famous hero of many more stories. The tale of a plucky child defeating all obstacles in his path (including adults and wolves) has obvious appeal. The story is briskly told and very nicely illustrated.

Anne’s lucky,’ Mrs Goslar exclaimed. ‘If only we had some way to leave. We’d vanish too!

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