Set in the heart land of Sheffield, England and Dachau, Germany we experience a snap shot of the life of four children during this crucial period in world history. Brother and sister Sally and Billy Thomas have a completely different experience of the war to the other main characters Irene and Manfred.
The book begins in Sheffield nearly a year after the declaration of war. The two children are on the streets and come across the warden who is on his rounds checking that everyone has their blackout in place. For them life has in the main continued as before, attending school and getting up to things their parents might not necessarily approve of. They like everyone else have to make sure they follow procedure to make sure they are safe during an air raid but waiting for this to happen means they have time on their hands and they are determined to make the best use of it. They get their opportunity when a series of burglaries take place and they decide to catch the thief, unfortunately their detecting skills means that they suspect the wrong person.
In contrast to this Irene and Manfred’s life has under gone profound change. Manfred is German and believes a lot of the propaganda being bandied around about the people they have conquered and the importance of crushing the British. Although he stands up for a Polish girl who is being mistreated but accepts the view that the Poles are unhuman. He with his friend do not believe their town will be bombed but an unscheduled drop takes place and he experiences the war first hand.
Their world converges when Manfred decides to rescue Irene from the slave labour conditions she is forced to endure by persuading his brother to drop her over England when he goes on an air raid over Sheffield.
A different way of looking at war through the different experiences of children. It also makes an interesting point that the experience of the population of the aggressor is not always as rosy as one might have imagined.