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This week, Year 5 have been thinking about Remembrance and what this means ready for their assembly. The children attended a virtual workshop run by Mr Dilly and were introduced to three authors who all write historical fiction books set in times of conflict – mainly World War 2.

Firstly, the authors discussed how important remembrance is and why we remember. They all agreed that it was about a commitment to making the world a better place. Currently, 1 out of 5 children live in areas of conflict – Year 5 realised that equated to 6 children in their class, nearly a quarter, and found that eye-opening.

Phil Earle, author of Until the Road Ends, spoke first about his inspiration for writing novels set in WW2. He wrote some of his books using animal characters from their perspective. He found this an interesting way to explore the theme of war as animals feel the same emotions humans do. He told us all about the true story of a pigeon in Dundee who saved 4 people during the Second World War. There is now a statue in Dundee dedicated to him. Read more about that here: https://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/news/article?article_ref=4572

Mr Dilly then showed the children a video all about the history of the Poppy and why it is so symbolic. This linked in well with our preparations for our Remembrance Assembly. The children heard how all the money raised from the selling of poppies, is given to war veterans.

Next, David Farr told us that his inspiration for his books, ‘Book of Stolen Dreams’ and ‘ The Secret of the Blood Red Key’, comes from his own family history. His mother was a German Jew, evacuated as a child on the Kindertransport. He was around 11 years old when she told him about it and since then, he has been fascinated and wanted to find out more. This gave him the motivation he needed to write his novels about a brother and sister reflecting his own family.

The British Army film made a few years ago was shown after this. This film showed a WW1 soldier in black and white being ignored by the modern-day crowd. As he sits next to a war memorial, a young girl comes to play. While she traces her fingers over the names carved into the statue, he is brought to life in colour, reminding us all to: Pause, Reflect and Remember.

Finally, we were introduced to Hiba Noor Khan who wrote ‘Safiyyah’s War’. This is also set in WW2 but from the perspective of a young Muslim girl. This story is based on true events and is full of mystery and adventure. During WW2, the leader of a Paris mosque hid many Jewish people and provided them with false identity papers, claiming that they were actually Muslim. They saved thousands of lives doing this, putting themselves at great risk from the Nazis who were highly suspicious.

Hiba was asked how she writes a story set in war without making it too sad. Her response: ‘Find a balance between reality and hope. Hope is always there and we need to focus on those moments.’ Mr Dilly then reminded everyone that even in times of conflict and despair, we should look for the moments of hope, look for the people helping and caring as that’s where the humanity is.