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Author: Hutton, Keely
In 1917, Thomas, a thirteen-year-old coal miner seeking his missing brother, James, joins the Claykickers, who tunnel beneath the battlefields of the Western Front as they learn to be men.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.80
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 503559
Kirkus Reviews (04/15/19)
School Library Journal (06/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2019 Gr 5 Up—Friendship, family, and loss are seen through the eyes of four British teen soldiers. Hutton's novel is set against the backdrop of mining under No-Man's Land at the Western Front during World War I. When 13-year-old Thomas receives news that his brother, a British soldier, is missing in action after the Germans use poison gas in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, Thomas is determined to find him. He tries repeatedly to enlist in the British Army, but even with his experiences in the mines of Dover, Thomas is unable to convince army recruiters that he is of age. However, there is more than one way to get to the Western Front, and Thomas finds his way to the battleground, where, to his shock, he is expected to work in the tunnels. Along with the three other teen soldiers, Thomas suffers the horrors and triumphs of war firsthand. The relationships among the main characters are well developed, and readers will particularly enjoy the camaraderie between the new recruits and the more experienced soldiers. Hutton engages readers from the first page with the sights, sounds, and vibrant feel of the era. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Hutton's Soldier Boy and historical fiction by Dean Hughes and Jim Eldridge.—Susan Catlett, Green Run High School, Virginia Beach - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2019 They call them “clay kickers,” the four English teenagers who are fighting in WWI, not in the trenches but beneath them, where they dig a seemingly endless tunnel below the western front’s no-man’s land; but to what end, for, frustratingly, their mission is kept secret, even from them. Together the boys make a motley crew: Thomas, a former coal miner; George, a London street urchin; shy Charlie, whom the boys call “mouse”; and annoyingly self-important Frederick, an Eton student. Thirteen-year-old protagonist Thomas has a second, self-imposed mission as well: to find his older brother James, who is missing in action. Meanwhile, interspersed is the story of a young, unnamed English soldier fighting in the trenches. Who is he? And what is the four boys’ secret mission? Hutton has done an excellent job of capturing the claustrophobic condition of life underground, evoking the horror of WWI, and creating characters who are individual and fully realized. There is no secret that this is an excellent addition to the surprisingly scant literature of the First World War. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.