Cuckoo Summer


Tommy’s help is needed on the farm since his father went to war. Now it also helps him take his mind off his father, who’s missing in action. Then again, so does Sally Smith, Mr Scarcross’s evacuee. Tommy’s learned some of her Geordie speech patterns, enough to know that the German gadgie she’s discovered in the woods is the airman who’s parachuted out of the plane crashed in Woundale woods.

What’s more, it seems Mr Scarcross and his Home Guard platoon are determined to find the airman. However, Sally’s having none of it. Nor is she letting Tommy tell his aunties. Instead, she’s gathering food and finding a hiding place that Mr Scarcross is unlikely to discover.

However, the airman is the least of Sally’s problems. It seems Mr Scarcross has little time for his evacuee, and nor does Miss Gently or others in the community. Tommy knows that Sally’s a bit wild and her stories of her past rather unreliable, but what is she hiding? Why doesn’t she write letters home? How is it that she learns so quickly and diligently during Aunt Annie’s Sunday School, determined to pick up everything it seems she’s missed… like reading and writing, and using cutlery?

Bookwagon loves this splendid novel, set in the spellbinding Cumbrian countryside over a Cuckoo Summer of 1940. Tommy and Sally’s friendship, Sally’s story, Tommy’s concerns and then their secret, build a truly absorbing story that we recommend highly to our readers.

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Cuckoo Summer

Jonathan Tulloch

(Andersen Press)

Although Tommy’s holding in his worries about his missing father, his aunts are aware of his feelings. It’s why Aunt Annie takes little notice of Mr Scarcross’s harsh words about his evacuee friend, Sally Smith. After all, Sally makes Tommy laugh. Then again, Sally’s full of stories and schemes and it seems she’s reluctant to share anything about her past life. There are even rumours that she doesn’t write home to Newcastle.
Then again, it’s Sally who discovers the German airman, missing from the wreckage of his plane. What’s more, she’s keen to help him, to keep him secret from Mr Scarcross and his threats of ‘the only good Jerry’s a dead Jerry‘. However, Mr Scarcross has authority, and leads the Woundale Home Guard. What’s more, it seems the airman is injured and needs more than Sally’s stolen food and first aid kit. Meanwhile, Tommy’s having doubts, not only about the size of this secret, or Sally’s circumstances with the hateful Mr Scarcross, but about his father. How can he help a German fighter in a war where his father’s on the other side?
Jonathan Tulloch convinces us of his setting and characters. It means that we can hear Tommy’s and Sally’s voices and feel for their individual situations. What’s more, their friendship means a lot to us. When Tommy stands up for Sally, and helps her out on the farm, we realise their bond. However, at every point, we need to know that Sally has some certainty. Then again, what of the airman? This strange Cuckoo Summer might herald more than one stolen nest…
Like The Valley of Lost Secrets, Cuckoo Summer is a book of discoveries and belonging, friendship and truths. Bookwagon loves this warm, insightful novel. Its Cumbrian WWII setting is the icing on the cake.



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