________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008


Desert Danger: Tim Jackson, North Africa, WWII. (My Story).

Jim Eldridge.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic, 2008.
160 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99415-6.

Subject Heading:
World War, 1939-1945-North Africa-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4



A mine was there, hidden just below the ground. I set to work with the trowel, scraping away the earth as quickly as I could, but carefully in case it was booby-trapped. It was. A wire went from the detonator to a spike in the ground. I cut the wire with my wire-cutters and then went on to disable the detonator. I wanted to go back and see how Ginger was. Had he been killed? If he hadn't—if I helped him—could I save him? But, if I did that I would slow down the whole process, and we had to get the paths through the minefield cleared before the Germans had the time to react fully. I clenched my teeth and moved on with Billy, both of us on our knees. All the time our soldiers kept up a stream of gunfire over our heads into the German positions, with the tanks behind us loosing off a shell every now and them, blasting away at the Germans. I had no idea how long we had been working; it all seemed to merge into a blur of noise and death, and I was caught in the middle. There was no way back; all I could do was go on.


Desert Danger, the latest instalment in Scholastic's excellent "My Story" series on the First and Second World Wars, is the tale of Tim Jackson, a Royal Engineer, who were known as "sappers." Tim was posted with General Bernard Montgomery's 8th British Army during the 1942 North African campaign. Tim's story is both exciting and moving and is a welcome addition to the series. Readers first meet Tim in war-ravaged London which was suffering from daily German Luftwaffe bombing. Barely past his eighteenth birthday, Tim was drafted into the British army and assigned to the Royal Engineers. He began his training in the dangerous work of laying landmines, which were used to slow down the German's advance, and also in defusing the enemy's landmines. After only a few short weeks of intensive training, Tim and his fellow recruits were shipped off to North Africa to join the British 8th Army which was trapped in the desert just outside Alexandria, Egypt. Soon Tim and his "mates" found themselves under intense fire as German Field-Marshall Erwin Rommel's forces tried to break the British Army's line at the Battle of Alam Halfa, but the famed "Desert Rats" held firm. After recuperating from the German assault, the British forces counterattacked at El Alemein and proceeded to slowly push the German lines back to Libya and achieve ultimate victory.

      As with the other books in the series, students are introduced to the technical aspects of warfare, strategic thinking and provided with a time-line of the campaign. However, the human aspect is never overwhelmed by the details of waging war.


Ian Stewart teaches at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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