Sunday 2 April 2023




The book cover (small image) shows a 12year old girl with brown hair and two pony tails tied with white ribbons, in yellow dress and white ankle socks. She is standing in a flourishing vegetable patch with back to us. She is holding a spade in her right hand and it rests on her right shoulder. She looks out across a field or moor coloured in greens and browns, with a barbed wire fence. The sky is a rich purple and red. In the sky are aircraft, and smoke and flames seem to rise from a point in the distance.

An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat©, International Book Reviewer.

Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction.
Whilst there have been plenty of antics going on in Upper Much-Mousing to report on this week, Mrs H has been seriously pre-occupied with serious human adult stuff elsewhere. So, please bear with her on that front.
(If your here for a selfie, please scroll on down!)
This week we have a brilliant story for you. So without further ado, lets go DIGGING FOR VICTORY . . . .

The book cover (larger version of small image) shows a 12year old girl with brown hair and two pony tails tied with white ribbons, in yellow dress and white ankle socks. She is standing in a flourishing vegetable patch with back to us. She is holding a spade in her right hand and it rests on her right shoulder. She looks out across a field or moor coloured in greens and browns, with a barbed wire fence. The sky is a rich purple and red. In the sky are aircraft, and smoke and flames seem to rise from a point in the distance.
Image Copyright. ©

AUTHOR:  Cathy Faulkner


Cover art by:   Harry Goldhawk


Published by: Firefly Press

Paperback Publication date: 4 May 2023

Paperback ISBN:   9 781 915 444 110


Cover price for Paperback £7.99


Pages:  279


Age range:  9 - 12

Any companion creatures?  No.




Some as to plot direction and characters. 



Thank you to... 


We are exceedingly grateful to the team at Firefly Press Publishers (and NetGalley) for the privilege of getting to Read & Review this much-anticipated book before publication and for allowing us to share examples of the text. 


As ever, our views are our own, and we only share reviews of books we like and feel our readers deserve to know about and that we hope they will enjoy. 


A little extra info before we start: The book follows diary-like entries rather than numbered chapters and runs from December 1940 to June 1941. And depending on the story's needs, sometimes the entries skip days or weeks. 


The plot


Our book opens on Wednesday, 3rd December 1940.

12-year-old Bonnie (our protagonist) lives with her mum, dad, and elder brother, Ralph, on a dairy farm in the west of England. Ralph, aged just 19, has been accepted to fly for the RAF. The whole family are very proud. Bonnie, though, also wants to be a hero. Why can't girls and women be heroes too? 

With Ralph away, Bonnie's parents decide to take in, billet, someone from another part of the country. It could be a child or maybe a 'land girl', one of the many women to take the place of the men in the fields. The last thing Bonnie wants is a boy, or heaven forefend, a shirker – a conchie, aka a conscientious objector. Nobody wants one of those.


When one Mr Fisher arrives soon after, in RAF uniform, Bonnie is unimpressed. The home's routine is necessarily changed, but Bonnie is to ask no questions and just do what Mr Fishers wants. But all he does in the day is sleep and read by the fire. So why, she wonders, is he billeted at their dairy farm. He isn't to help anywhere else or on the farm, and no aerodrome or squadron is stationed nearby? 


These thoughts nag at Bonnie, but life moves on. With an extra mouth to feed and less help on the farm, Bonnie gets conscripted to do her bit for her family and country. She has to help DIG FOR VICTORY.


Gardening is not Bonnie's thing. Digging garden trenches just does not seem of worth. She only did a morning of digging and would have readily swapped the spade for a gun. She wants to be a hero. She wants to be like her brother and not like Mr Fisher, who sits and does nothing. 


Rumours start to fly around school that 'stay at home' Mr Fisher is a coward or a conchie. Maybe he's a German spy? Worse, they brand quiet Bonnie the same!


Whatever the truth of it, the taunts by the other girls and boys soon wear down Bonnie's best pal, Carol. Fed up with herself being taunted for siding with and defending quiet Bonnie, Carol soon caves in to popular childish beliefs, saying that it is possible he's a conchie.

Now with no friends in the village, Bonnie is determined to find out EXACTLY what Mr Fisher gets up to when he goes out in the evening and returns before dawn. She wants to find out what he does, get proof he is playing his part in the war, and then win back her friends.

From here on in, the plot unfolds quickly. There is an alarming discovery, uncertainty, new shoots of life and bad news to shake the family to the ground. Resolve will be stretched, unlikely friendships made, friends lost, and true heroism discovered. 

At the centre of this all will be a 12-year-old girl struggling to make sense of things and a world exploding around about her. The outcome I shall leave for you, dear reader, to discover for yourself. You will NOT be disappointed.

So, what did we think?


A beautiful, heartwarming story, so lyrically told and powerful enough to raise a tear and a cheer. 


Dealing with the realities of wartime from a home perspective is not easy. 


To do it eloquently, factually, and yet maintaining a flavour of the camaraderie of the time, without sounding like propaganda, and also the fear, doubts and misconceptions, is a challenging task. Especially when it is for a middle-grade audience who will have little or no awareness of the times, motivations and struggles.

I really can not praise this tale enough. Yes, there is a good overall vibe to the story. But it is a snapshot of a short period, a lone girl, her family, and multiple conflicting thoughts, understandings and priorities that could happen to one of us. There are home truths aplenty to make the younger reader and their families/ teachers think. War is seldom kind, at least for some, no matter the intention or outcome. I believe this is why Mrs H shed a tear. 

The writing style, the lyrical way in which the story and text quite literally dances, flies and weaves across the page, makes this tale so fluid and thus just that bit extra special. Just have a look at the pages below. The words literally do reach out, call out and float along. . . .


We read this over two days and would not have missed it for the world. 

So . . . . 

Crunch time. 

I don't think you will find an abler story out there today than this. It seems only now, 80 years afterwards, that the impact of the war on children has been explored for the child reader. 

A worthy and warming short read that should be on your 'To Buy list'.

Want to buy a copy?

To get a copy, and we hope you do, fly in to your local independent bookshop (muddy wellingtons, trowels and spades may well be frowned upon). There are plenty out there, and each shop is just waiting to serve up whatever kind of mystery, fun and adventure you desire.


Cathy Faulkner's web page can be found HERE or type this:


Firefly Press's web page can be found HERE or type this:


Harry Goldhawk's web page can be found HERE or type this:


And as this is the Sunday Selfie day, we are joining the Selfies Blog Hop hosted by our American blogging pals, Janet Blue from the Cat on My Head Blog. To join in and hop around the globe and see all manner of companions and delights, just CLICK this LINK to head to janet Blue's page. 


Click the individual links/images below to visit folk....

I shall leave you with a copy of none other than me (obviously) with my ear to the ground listening out for more good books to review! 🙂 🙂

Erin lies with her ear to a blue carpet and paws outstretched before her in a relaxed manner.

Till laters!




  1. Erin, that's a really sweet selfie.
    Now, as to the book - as soon as Mummy saw the title, she knew it was going to be about WW2, because she remembers HER Mummy telling her stories about when she was evacuated during the War, and she definitely remembers the expression "Dig for Victory". Mummy will look out for this one especially.

    1. It is an elegant childrens tale, full of feeling and emotions. A worth book to read to the youngsters Mrs H says, and I would agree.

  2. Lovely selfie, Erin. That sounds like a good story and #1 went to look for it on (since we live in France, our options are limited) and saw that it would be published on May 4. She is hoping it will be available on Kindle because if you get sent books from the UK these days, you have to pay tax and customs!

    The Chans

    1. I hope it will be there on kindle for you. A great book for kids to get a feeling of the various sides of war, blended most eloquently with a wonderful tale of heroism.

  3. ERin I adore your velvety black nose..
    Hugs Cecilia

    1. Thank you. It glistens sometimes too, my nose 🙂

  4. Erin, your selfie has a lovely dreamy feel to it. So beautiful!

    We hope Mrs. H is doing okay, and that she was able to tend to those things that needed tending.

    This book sounds amazing. Thank you for the screen shots of how the author uses fonts styles and such to draw the reader in even more to the story. Your review definitely makes us want to read this one!


    1. Nearly ever page has flourishes of expression in the text to match the dialogue or the protagonists thoughts. Wonderful. Thanks, it has been a dreamy sort of sunday since the sun came out....

  5. Thanks for the review! It sounds like a page-turner. :)

    1. It most certainly was a wonderful and engrossing read. Kids Middle grade books have a strength and dynamic and vibe that a lot of adult books lack. A lot of charm in this book, which is strengthened by the text layout.

  6. Its too bad there are not more books like this, because war needs to be seen as something we want to avoid, not glorify, as in all those games that kids play these days.

    I love your selfie, Erin, you look very relaxed!

    1. I agree. But there are more and more coming on the market. Education is the way, in all things...

  7. That does sound quite good but I'm not sure I could read some of those dancing words with my dyslexia. I love your photo sweet Princess!

  8. What an intriguing book. A fresh and positive take on a tough time for so many in the world.

  9. Sounds like an interesting book!

  10. Wonderful review and a great book for my granddaughter! Thank you so much for these reviews! And hello, sweet kitty!

  11. Love your selfie and I think this book might be a good read for my niece. Thank you for reviewing!

  12. Sounds like a lovely book. Great selfie, Erin!

  13. Dear Erin, yoo do such a fabulous book review. Maybe someday when I publish my meowmoirs yoo will review for me. Momma loves reading history stories through the eyes of young people. This sounds like a wonderpurr story. Thank yoo so much. Love, Dori

  14. Sounds like a book for almost any age. Erin, as well as being Princess, you are a true Predator, helping you Mom to hunt for books.

  15. I love the unusual text! Mr. Fisher is a mystery and I really want to know more. I agree that middle grade fiction is equally good for adults and find myself reading it more often than adult fiction.
    Your selfie is beautiful.