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Code Name Kingfisher - Liz Kessler

Updated: May 30

When Liv finds a secret box from her grandmother’s childhood she uncovers an extraordinary war-time story of bravery, betrayal and daring defiance. A story that will change Liv and her family forever

This is a roller coaster of a book, told in a dual time narrative of WW2 action, letters and flashbacks and a present day relative finding out about her ageing grandmother's secret history and story whilst facing her own challenges to overcome.

I loved the similarities between Liv and the wartime sisters, each facing difficulties and bullies, hiding secrets, facing family hurt and drama with courage and bravery....this is very cleverly written, though addresses some tricky themes, so caution using in school needed, as always. Issues such as bullying/friendship, the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of Holland, Alzheimers and loss...there's a lot of emotion and the gritty reality of dealing with it here, but brilliantly and unflinchingly dealt with, and portrayed with empathy and pathos, very skillfully and thoughtfully treated.

I loved seeing Liv's character dealing with the issues she faces with courage and determination, mirroring the courage shown by the relatives ( working for the Dutch resistance saving Jewish children) she is investigating as part of a school history project, and also loved the relationship and love for her Bubbe that is a thread throughout.

It's a tear-jerker, so be prepared, but stunningly written: gripping and thrilling, cleverly plotted and utterly engaging.

Im thrilled and honoured that Liz took time to speak to me and answer some questions as part of the blogtour, which I can share here today:

How does it feel writing fact-based adventure as opposed to fantasy type stories and which do you prefer? Mermaids and fairies or war heroes!?
It’s strange because, even though on the surface these are completely different types of stories, underneath the themes are all the same. No matter what I’m writing about, whether it’s mermaids, fairies, time travel or Dutch Resistance fighters, I’m always really writing about social justice, standing up for others, love, kindness, family and friendship. So in that sense it doesn’t feel too different. The main difference is that historical novels demand a LOT more research. And honestly, I enjoy writing all of them. I couldn’t choose one or the other because I fall in love with all my characters and they drive every book.
What sort of research did you have to do in advance/during the writing of Code Name Kingfisher ?
Some of the research for this book came out of the research I had already been doing for my previous book, When The World Was Ours. It was during a research trip across five countries in central Europe that I first heard about the Oversteegen sisters who, as teenage girls, got involved in the Dutch Resistance during World War Two. I spent a few days in Amsterdam visiting museums such as The Resistance Museum and the Anne Frank Museum. I read MANY book on the subject, I scoured the internet for everything I could find. And once I’d written a first draft, I ran it by two experts on Holland during the war to make sure I had got my facts right.
How do you like the idea of being an undercover agent? Would you be a good one?
As a fantasy life, I LOVE the idea. In reality I’m not sure I’d be very good at it because I’m too honest and would probably find it very hard not to tell people who I really was!
What is it about World War 2 that you think still holds such fascination for readers and authors writing about it/based on it?
I can’t speak for anyone else but for me personally there is my own family heritage, but it is also very much about learning from history and trying not to make the same mistakes again. Unfortunately, as adults we are making a very bad job of that. In writing for young people, I guess I’m hoping that they will do a better job with the world than we’ve done.
Favourite book you remember as a young reader?
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
Favourite recent children's book? (or what is your current read/recommendation if easier?)
Easily my favourite recent children’s book is the wonderful debut from Joyce Efia Harmer, How Far We’ve Come.
Is there any other author that you particularly admire or think we should be more aware of or look out for - an up and coming star?
There are so many great authors out there and I’d hate to pick just one because I believe that the great thing about having so much choice is that there should be something for everyone. So, if I had a tip it would be to say go spend half an hour in a bookshop or library, pick out books where the cover or title appeal to you, have a look on the back to see what they’re about, read the first page and see if it grabs you. This is what I do and it’s a great way of discovering new authors and new worlds in books.

Check.out other stops on the blogtour at the accounts shown here:

Liz Kessler has written over twenty books for children and young adults. Most of these are middle grade books featuring mermaids, fairies, time travel, and superpowers. She lives in the UK.

Find out more about this brilliant author and the other books she's written at her website:

Visit publisher Simon and Schuster to get a copy yourself here:

My thanks as always to the publisher and author for a copy of the book to review and to Eve for arranging the blogtour and Q and A.


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5 days ago

Children benefit from having meaningful relationships with both parents, as long the sage law group as those relationships are healthy and nurturing.

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