Visit London Blog » Carrie’s War Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:11:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Once Upon a Wartime Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum Thu, 10 Feb 2011 15:00:45 +0000 This morning I went to see the Imperial War Museum’s new exhibition, Once Upon a Wartime: Classic War Stories for Children which opens tomorrow.

The exhibition is split into five sections – one for each of the books it explores: War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden, The Silver Sword by Ian Serraeillier, The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall and Little Soldier by Bernard Ashley.

Like the books, the exhibition is very emotive, showing conflict through a child’s eyes. There are sad aspects – telling how 250,000 horses died in the First World War, displays of weapons used by child soldiers and tales of displaced families across Europe. But there are also happier moments – a photograph of author Nina Bawden feeding a lamb during her own evacuation and how Robert Westall was inspired to write The Machine Gunners in order to be closer to his son.

Any budding novelists will be interested to see how the authors wrote the books. There’s lots of information about how they developed the stories and there are first drafts, notebooks and even an old typewriter on display.

There are life-sized models of important parts of some of the books –  you can look through the cupboards in Hepzibah’s kitchen from Carries War and go inside the secret fortress from The Machine Gunners.

As well as the exhibition, the museum is running a series of events, including a children’s war literature festival in August.

If you’re a fan of any of the books featured in the exhibition or even fancy writing a children’s book yourself, it’s definitely worth a trip to the museum.

Once Upon A Wartime at the Imperial War Museum. 11 Feb-30 Oct 2011.

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Prunella Scales Stars in Carrie’s War at the Apollo Theatre London Thu, 25 Jun 2009 16:28:08 +0000 Prunella Scales in Carrie's War

For me – and I’m sure the vast majority of the audience at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue last night – Nina Bawden’s Carrie’s War is a forgotten childhood story filed in the back of the  memory. A bit like Oliver Twist or The Hobbit.

Set in 1939 the story revolves around 12 year old Carrie and her younger brother Nick, who are evacuated out of London during the Second World War to a Welsh mining town. Stories of a young slave boy’s scull, a miserable  miserly bible bashing shopkeeper, a mysterious wealthy dying widow, a white witch and a cavernous old house built on an ancient Druid site await them.

Carrie and her brother are clever, innocent, funny Enid Blyton type characters, who know the difference between right and wrong and in the case of young Nick think with their stomachs first.  Whereas Mr Evans, brilliantly played by Sion Tudor Owen, whose false- teeth sucking daft rants for me at least, stole the show and his sister played by Kacey Ainsworth (remember her in EastEnders?) the down trodden mousey Lou feel more Dickens. It’s a pretty talented and starry cast  led by Prunella Scales who plays the ailing, sad but slightly sinister Mrs Gotobed.

Gentle but fast paced, Carrie’s War worked the cast hard as the production demands them to act and sing wonderful Welsh hymns.  It’s action packed too – humour, betrayal, Carrie’s journey from child to teenager – all contained by a brilliant set that features two houses, both with two levels divided by a pocket of war-torn Welsh countryside. The stage was a clever, constant reminder of the war and the play’s two locations.

One for grownups and kids, Carrie’s War is a brilliant yarn, immaculately staged and performed. Playing to a packed house, everyone in the audience loved Carrie’s War. If you see the play, let us know what you think.

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