Orca Book Publishers

Browse by Category


Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 224
Themes: prisoners of war, moral codes of behavior, friendship, growing up, power of positive thinking
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 03/Sep/2019
Bookmark and Share
It is 1945, and thirteen-year-old Gwen has been a prisoner at the Weihsien Internment Camp in northern China for nearly two and a half years. Gwen is one of 140 children who were enrolled at a boarding school in Chefoo when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China.

Life in the camp is difficult. There is not enough food or water, and even the children are forced to do hard labor. But Miss E., one of their teachers from Chefoo, has come up with an unusual scheme: she will follow the Girl Guide Code, treating Gwen and her friends as if they are part of a Girl Guide troop. Girl Guides promise not only to stay positive in the most challenging situations but also to do good turns, meaning they must be kind to others without any expectation of reward. Gwendolyn hopes that when she grows up, she will be as courageous and optimistic as Miss E.

But then Gwen learns that Miss E. is not as full of answers as she seems, and she realizes that in order to protect a friend, she will have to do something that could never be considered a good turn.

Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author of The Emperor of Any Place
“This beautiful book is a song to courage and kindness, voices raised in cheerfulness faced with the hollowness of hope. It’s about the dignity and spirit that frees a prisoner from despair, a deeply felt prayer and yet somehow—amazingly—a rousing hymn. I loved every note.”
Kirkus Reviews
"Fascinating piece of history."
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
"So well-told and compelling…It is the sort of novel that will engage and inform grown-up readers as well. Highly Recommended."
School Library Connection
“Highly readable with lots of dialogue, readers will encounter death and torture in learning about another aspect of the consequences of WWII, but will also learn of bravery and compassion, and the power of keeping ‘your chin up!’”

You might also be interested in: