At the Firefly Gate

At the Firefly Gate by Linda Newbery.

Henry and his mother and father move from London to a small village in Suffolk.  Henry worries that he won’t make any friends and that he will be bored as can be compared to his life in the big city.  The first night that he spends in his new room, Henry sees glowing fireflies at the end of the garden and a shadowy figure standing there looking at him.  As Henry meets people in the village, he forms a close connection with an elderly lady who lives next door.  Dottie seems to recognize Henry and Henry finds himself dreaming and experiencing things that are the memories of a man killed in World War II who was Dottie’s fiance. 

The book is a magical juxtaposition of history, dreams and real-life childhood.  Henry is a winning protagonist who is down-to-earth but experiencing amazing things.  His counterpart and neighbor, Grace, is equally as well drawn as a sulky teen with a soft side she rarely shows.  And the wonderful character of Dottie makes us all wish to enter the garden and spend some time playing Scrabble and having afternoon tea.

Recommend this to boys who enjoy World War II stories, but also to kids who like historical fiction.  With its meshing of history and modern life, it will also be a good bridge book to introduce children to historical fiction.