Across a War-Tossed Sea

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Overview

It's 1943, and World War II is raging. To escape the terror of the Blitz, ten-year-old Wesley and fourteen-year-old Charles were evacuated from England to America. After a few near misses with German U-boats and a treacherous ocean crossing, the brothers arrived in Virginia. The culture shock is intense as the London boys adjust to rural farm life and have to learn new sports, customs, and spellings, plus contend with racial segregation and bullying.

As time goes by, the ...

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Across a War-Tossed Sea

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Overview

It's 1943, and World War II is raging. To escape the terror of the Blitz, ten-year-old Wesley and fourteen-year-old Charles were evacuated from England to America. After a few near misses with German U-boats and a treacherous ocean crossing, the brothers arrived in Virginia. The culture shock is intense as the London boys adjust to rural farm life and have to learn new sports, customs, and spellings, plus contend with racial segregation and bullying.

As time goes by, the brothers begin to adapt to their new reality and blaze their own trails, writing letters home, making new friends, and pitching in to the American war effort. But just when Wes and Charles think they are safe from the terror of the battles raging thousands of miles across the sea, they encounter the very brand of soldiers they were trying to escape: Nazis, from a POW camp right around the corner and U-boats torpedoing American ships off the nearby Atlantic coastline. Suddenly, Charles, Wesley, and their new Virginian family must face the dangers of a foreign war coming too close to home.

Award-winning author L. M. Elliott brings a rarely told story of World War II on U.S. soil to light in this gripping and meticulously-researched novel, a companion to the beloved Under a War-Torn Sky.


Praise for Across a War-Tossed Sea
"Likable protagonists and a fascinating historical backdrop combine for a story well-told."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Serious issues of intolerance (religious freedom in Europe, racism in America, cruelty to German POWs) permeate the story without overwhelming it, making this a breezy and enlightening read. The occasional letters from the brothers to their father overseas are a nice touch, portraying an accurate kid's-eye-view of a terrible time in history."
-Booklist

"This historical novel would be a perfect fit for any collection seeking to engage readers in conversations around race, culture, and equality in America."
-School Library Journal

Praise for Under a War-Torn Sky

"An emotional, action-packed gem! Elliott paints a picture of war that we don't often see, one that is away from the battles, showing life and death in a war-ravaged land. An engrossing thrill-ride."
-KLIATT

"A powerful debut novel of adventure and salvation. Readers, young and old, will be moved by this fine book."
-Children's Literature

"It's packed with action, intrigue, and suspense, but this novel celebrates acts of kindness and heroism without glorifying war."
-Booklist

"Elliott's fluid style is woven together with vivid historical details from WWII, appropriate for adolescents who seek suspense-filled adventures."
-BookPage

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Virginia author L.M. Elliott adds another compelling novel to her acclaimed, carefully researched historic fiction collection for ages 10 and up. As with its predecessor Under a War-torn Sky, this novel is set during World War II. It follows Charles and Wesley Bishop, two English boys who have been transported to the area just east of Richmond, Virginia, to keep them safe from the Blitz in London. The brothers’ memories of Nazi-torpedoed ships and exploding firebombs, their curiosity about American Indians, their appalled view of racism in the South and their experience with German POWs at a nearby camp all ground this novel in a specific zeitgeist. Elliott handles British slang adroitly and includes several of the boys’ letters back home, further revealing the children’s worries about loved ones in their war-ravaged homeland. This book is sure to appeal not only to young history buffs but also to an older generation with an interest in World War II. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum; Ages 8 to 14.
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Ellen Frank
In 1943, fourteen-year-old Charles and his ten-year-old brother, Wesley, were sent to the United States from England to escape the horrific bombing raids in London during World War II. They are placed in the Ratcliff’s “already crowded” farmhouse in Virginia and become part of the Ratcliff family for the duration of the war. Charles and Wesley write letters home recounting their experiences in the United States during the war. Interspersed with the letters are the normal preteen adventures of adolescent boys growing up in a war-torn country. The teens deal with snake bites, girls, adventure, prejudice, and civil rights, with the big issue of divided loyalty just under the surface. Social interactions between Germans, Native Americans, African Americans, and the English are included. Charles feels guilty that he is safe in America and his family is suffering in Europe. Boys would appreciate the adventure, references to Huck Finn, and trouble the characters get into. The dialogue seems a little dated, but it does reflect the time period. The reader would need some background knowledge of World War II to really understand all the nuances of the book. Useful for a discussion on what life was like for the civilian population and especially the effect of war on young children and teens, this book has a detailed afterword explaining all the historical references. Reviewer: Ellen Frank; Ages 11 to 15.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-29
In the companion to Under A War-Torn Sky (2003), 14-year-old Charles and his 10-year-old brother, Wesley, feel stranded in the United States after having fled the London Blitz. The Ratcliff farm in Virginia is a far cry from London, but the Bishop boys are safe from nightly bombs and have survived an ocean crossing fraught with the danger of lurking Nazi submarines. Charles is making the best of his new life with school, girls and football, but Wesley is wretched. He's homesick, nightmares of firebombs disturb his sleep, and he's being picked on by Ron, the Ratcliffs' middle son. The theme of outsiders fitting in grows complicated as Wesley befriends an African-American boy and learns the ways of segregation in Virginia at the time. His image of cowboys and Indians doesn't hold up when he meets Paul Johns, who is Chickahominy and lives in a regular house, not a tepee. And the German prisoners of war working the Ratcliff farm, Wesley and Charles learn, can't be lumped together as evil Nazis; some aren't even Nazis. An extensive afterword fills in the historical context, though no bibliography is included. Likable protagonists and a fascinating historical backdrop combine for a story well-told. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 5–8—Ten-year-old Wesley and fourteen-year-old Charles Bishop evacuate London during the Blitz, trading bombs bursting in air for the perils of fitting in at a new school in rural Virginia. While Charles makes friends easily, Wesley struggles to find a place in their foster family, the Ratcliffs. It isn't until he meets Freddy, an African American boy living with his grandparents while his father builds ships for the war effort, that the true plot really takes off. Elliott uses the backdrop of World War II and the horrors of Hitler's plans to illuminate an entirely different picture of the racial divide in the United States. At every turn in this well-plotted novel, readers see an example of prejudice and preconceptions coming from white American characters. The author's attention to detail is evident, as the facts of World War II come through clearly in each chapter, just as they did in Under a War Torn Sky (Hyperion, 2001). This historical novel would be a perfect fit for any collection seeking to engage readers in conversations around race, culture, and equality in America.—Pete Smith, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts CPS, South Hadley, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423157557
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 290,853
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

L. M. Elliott (www.LMElliott.com) is the author of a number of picture books and award-winning historical novels, including Under a War-Torn Sky and its sequel, A Troubled Peace; Annie, Between the States; Give Me Liberty; and Flying South. A longtime journalist, Elliott was twice a finalist for the National Magazine Award and recipient of numerous Dateline awards. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and also holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina. She lives in northern Virginia with her family.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    I've been a fan of Ms. Elliott's books since Under a War Torn Sk

    I've been a fan of Ms. Elliott's books since Under a War Torn Sky and its sequel A Troubled Peace.  In this companion, readers are treated to the lives and love of the Ratcliff family. Readers of the series will love learning more about Patsy and her family.  Ms. Elliott's knack for authenticity, description, and the creation of characters to love are in full force in this novel.  As with all of her novels. war and conflict force characters to question and stand for their beliefs in the face of crisis. As a fan of historical fiction, I always appreciate Ms. Elliott's ability to teach me more about some of history's little known events and lives.  I loved this book from cover to cover.  I advise reading them in order for to completely savor the entire story.

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