The Swallows' Flight

Hilary McKay

The Swallows' Flight
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The Swallows' Flight

Hilary McKay

Erik and Hans are German boys. Ruby and Kate are English girls. They grow up in worlds that would never meet, until war tumbles their lives together.

Then one September afternoon there are choices to be made. How is courage lost, and found? Who is really the enemy? And what does friendship truly mean, in the middle of a war?

Meanwhile Rupert and Clarry work secretly for peace - and a brighter future for them all …


The Swallows’ Flight picks up the threads of The Skylarks’ War, Hilary McKay’s Costa Award-winning novel of World War I. In this new novel, which can happily be read as a standalone, we are on the cusp of World War II, and the children born between the wars are the focus. Central to the action are Kate – fragile, sharp-eyed and cautious – and Ruby – bristling with anger, a firecracker waiting to ignite.

Sprawling, offbeat families are Hilary McKay’s trademark, and Kate and Ruby’s families come alive here with telling details and touches of humour. Older brothers are called away to theatres of war, while the lives of women and girls remain the focus. In moments of crisis, can children like Kate and Ruby truly be brave? Neatly braided into this drama is the story of Erik and Hans, two German boys who dream of a future at the Berlin Zoo but end up as Luftwaffe pilots.

Readers who enjoyed Goodnight Mister Tom and The War That Saved My Life will treasure the wonderful human drama of The Swallows’ Flight. Warmly recommended for readers ages 10+.

Mike Shuttleworth is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Hawthorn.

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