September 17

313p. websites. Red Deer. Mar. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780889955073.
Gr 7 Up—Based on the harrowing true story of a ship carrying 90 British children to Canada during World War II, September 17 centers on three young passengers on the S.S. City of Benares. The Children Overseas Reception Board, or CORB, was the organization responsible for evacuating children from wartime Britain and sending them to join families in safer lands. The Benares never reached Canada. On September 17, 1940, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. Only 13 of the 90 children on board survived. Lewis's compelling novel follows the journey of three fictional survivors, each based on true accounts of the incident. Fifteen-year-old Bess, 13-year-old Ken, and 10-year-old Sonia leave Liverpool full of hope and begin their journey on a refitted luxury ocean liner. Moving fluidly among the three stories, Lewis follows the children, along with escorts and the crew, as they encounter the horrific events and the days immediately following the attack. Readers will find themselves becoming emotionally invested in each child's tale. Ken's story is especially compelling, as he was one of 42 survivors who drifted on a lifeboat for eight days. The novel is well researched, and the historical notes and interview with the author help to fill out this little-known chapter of WW II history. The story of adventure and bravery under dire circumstances will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction and tales of courage.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

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