Thursday, July 21, 2016

Voices under the Rising Sun - Fiona Hodgkins

This is not your usually children's story. It is written in the form of dairies, letters and factual texts. Not only that, this is a World War II (WW2) story about how  the life of  3 children were being changed during the war.

Being a history buff, naturally, I am attracted to the book. This book is suitable for children 10 years and above. It was written as a companion piece to another book, From Syonan to Fuji-Go, by the same author, Fiona Hodgkins. Both books are based of her research into the settlement of Bahau. It was a settlement for the Catholics in Negri Sembilan (a state in Malaya, now known as Malaysia) during the Japanese Occupation.

The characters and events are based on true stories. Most names and some events are being altered. One of the children, Mary ( an Eurasian), was in fact based on the life of the author's mother. The story started on describing how life of like when the British were in power in the region. Very soon, WW2 began and eventually, the fall of Singapore.

With Kempetai (Japanese secret police) watching and food shortages in Singapore became critical, many Catholics decided to go to Bahau where they could grow their own crops and probably send some supplies down to Singapore.

However, the crops failed and the people had to survived on snails and pets, which were pretty traumatising. To add on to the misery, the people fell sick with malaria and typhoid!

Of course, the story ended when finally the war was over.

Personally, I think this is a good read for children and adults likewise. Definitely a must read for history buffs. It is simple to read and there is a lot of facts describing the life in those days.

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