Tag Archives: Matt Whyman

War Girls

Another irresistible collection of short stories for you. This time to mark the anniversary of WWI, and it’s all about girls. In War Girls nine of our best authors get together to tell the stories of the young females left behind. And there are so many ways to do that.

War Girls

I loved Theresa Breslin’s tale of the young artist who took her crayons with her as she went to France as a nurse. Matt Whyman looks at the war from the point of view of ‘the enemy’ in the form of a female sniper in Turkey. Very powerful story.

Mary Hooper has spies in a teashop, and you can never be too careful who you speak to or who you help. I found Rowena House’s story about geese in France both touching, and also quite chilling. I’d never heard about the theories for the outbreak of the Spanish flu before.

Melvin Burgess tells us about a strong heroine, who can’t abide cowardice, even in those close to her. Berlie Doherty’s young lady can sing, and that’s what she does to help the war effort. And singing isn’t necessarily safer or easier than being in the trenches.

Anne Fine deals with hope, and whether it’s all right to lie to make someone’s suffering less heavy. Adèle Geras has updated her story The Green Behind the Glass, which I’ve read several times before. It’s still one of my favourites and can easily be read again and again.

Sally Nicholls may be young, but she can still imagine what it was like to be old and to have survived as one of the spare women of the war; one of those who could never hope to marry. I don’t believe there is enough written about them, and Going Spare is a fantastic offering on the subject.

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The Truth is Dead

What if?

What if it had gone the other way? This short anthology, edited by Marcus Sedgwick, takes history and turns it round. Some famous times in the past get a new look through eight authors. Marcus has rounded up some of our best writers, like Philip Ardagh, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Anthony McGowan, Linda Newbery, Mal Peet, Eleanor Updale and Matt Whyman, and asked them to rewrite history.

I was fairly taken with Anthony McGowan’s Jesus, and I sincerely hope he will not get into trouble for this. Anthony, I mean. Jesus seems to have messed up, and he even passed on the Nike trainers. Honestly.

And I loved Mal Peet’s character, almost from the first sentence of his short story. I knew Mal is talented, but this is quite spectacular.

Linda Newbery does what she does so well, offering a tale from WWI. Philip Ardagh shows what a space nerd he is with his story about the moon, and Matt Whyman does other strange things to the same moon.

Marcus gives a new side to Napoleon, and Eleanor Updale tackles the millennium bug, while Frank Cottrell Boyce has a related topic in the world ending next year. That’s after the Aztecs colonised Glasgow.

At times I had to work to keep my wits with all this back-to-frontness. Makes you think.