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When the Sky Falls

Written by Phil Earle

Key Stage 2 Stories about Animals Historical Fiction

LoveReading View on When the Sky Falls

A powerful story of friendship against the odds inspired by real events in World War II

A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021

No wonder he is angry! Bombs are raining down on the city that Joseph is sent to as an evacuee. And anyway, who came up with the stupid idea that he should live with Mrs F. who doesn’t even like children! He knows he should just run away but where would he go? Instead, he finds himself inexorably drawn into Mrs F‘s life and the zoo and the animals she is fighting to keep safe – in particular, Adonis, the powerful silverback gorilla. Every night when the bombs fall, Mrs F rushes to the zoo. She risks her life to be with her animals safe knowing that, if the very worst happens and the zoo is bombed she will have to take exceptional and radical action. Will she be brave enough? And would Joseph be? In this deeply moving story of Joseph’s journey of self-discovery Phil Earle not only tells a brilliant story of a child’s emotional development but also added an important and true dimension to World War 2 stories.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

More About This Book

Julia Eccleshare's Picks for June 2021

The New Girl by Nicola Davies and Cathy Fisher

A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Protest! by Alice Haworth-Booth

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

The Tindims and the Floating Moon by Sally Gardner 

When the Sky Falls Synopsis

Inspired by a true story.

It's 1940, and Joseph has been packed off to stay with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no great fondness for children. To Joseph's amazement, she owns the rundown city zoo where Joseph meets Adonis, a huge silverback gorilla. Adonis is ferociously strong and dangerous, but Joseph finds he has an affinity with the lonely beast.

But when the bombs begin to fall, it is up to Joseph to guard Adonis's cage should it be damaged by a blast. Will Joseph be ready to pull the trigger if it comes to it?

When the Sky Falls Reader Reviews

In addition to our LoveReading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

This is a beautiful book that has the right amount of every emotion included within the stunning cover of this wonderful book. Full review

Lottie Clark (Age 10)

During WWII, Joseph is sent to live with Mrs F. He makes friends and grows close to a mighty silver backed gorilla who helps him with a bully. Full review

Isabella Tse (Age 10)

I think Phil Earle has done a very good job with this book, because he has a very unique style. I especially loved his way of sliding in happiness and some funny parts with some moments of real misery. Full review

Rowan Helsby (Age 10)

When the Sky Falls Press Reviews

'An extraordinary story with historical and family truth at its heart, that tells us as much about the present as the past. Deeply felt, movingly written, a remarkable achievement.' - Michael Morpurgo

'Complex, dark, intense and mysterious, When the Sky Falls is an astounding work of fiction. The characters have the knotty awkwardness of real people, and the whole book has that unfakeable feeling of Truth. Earle takes us to some very dark places in this novel, but at the end he brings us back to the light. For years now Earle has been one of our finest writers for young people and here he is at the height of his considerable powers.' - Antony McGowan

'Phil Earle writes from the heart: a story about love and friendship and how animals can connect people in the darkest of times and allow them to heal.' - Gill Lewis

'A bold and beautiful story.' - Abi Elphinstone

'A raw and beautiful story about the power of kindness and hope.' - Anna James

Book Information

ISBN: 9781783449651
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
Author: Phil Earle
Publisher: Andersen Press
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 2
Topics: Animals, Historical Fiction

About Phil Earle

Phil Earle  was born and raised in Hull. His first job was as a care worker in a children’s home. Phil then chose the more sedate life of a bookseller, and now works in children’s publishing. He is the author of several award-winning novels including Being Billy which won the 2012 weRead Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. He lives in Yorkshire

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