My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Machine Gunners tells the story of six children during the second world war after one of them finds a crashed German plane (complete with dead pilot) and takes the machine gun as a souvenir, and then as they build a fort in the garden of another child (to help the fight against the Germans – or Jarmans as they are colloquially known in the local lingo of north eastern England where this is set) and end up keeping an injured German officer prisoner inside the fortress (well as much as a bunch of kids can keep a grown man prisoner anyway – even though they do have a gun).
One of the best things about this book was the fact it was written by someone who had lived through that period in history and the period details given in the book was a testament to that, you know that some of the things that happened in the book probably happened to him, or something like it anyway.
I also liked the fact that it didn’t shy away from showing the effects of war, warts and all as it were, considering that it was aimed at children, but I think that children grew up quicker during the war and know a lot more than we think they did, so would be more than likely to actually understand what was going on around them despite their parents attempt to shield them from the grim realities of war.
One of the best books for children, and one of the best books written about the second world war from the point of view of a child of the time, that I have ever read!