At the start of World War II, more than 3.5 million people were evacuated from British cities to the countryside. But it wasn’t until Cheryl Blackford began writing Lizzie and the Lost Baby that she realized her father had been sent away from the embattled city of Hull in Yorkshire, where she was born. Although she now lives in Minnesota, Blackford draws on her love of rural Yorkshire in her warmhearted debut novel for young readers. Ten-year-old Lizzie and her world come alive with sparkling details, from the blacked-out windows of the train that takes Lizzie and her little brother, Peter, to safety in the countryside, to the potted meat sandwiches their mother has packed for them.
Everything is new and strange in Swainedale, the fictional village where the evacuees are sent, and Lizzie feels less than welcome. Here readers meet Elijah, a Gypsy boy trying to cope with local prejudice and to bring in money to help his mother and sisters, including baby Rose. But when Elijah is pressured into making a mistake that puts Rose in jeopardy, Lizzie and Elijah are brought together in unexpected ways.
This is a well-told story of two young people making difficult choices on their own. Though the setting and situation may be new to American children, a helpful glossary defines unfamiliar terms.
This article was originally published in the January 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.