Ruby in the Ruins
Ruby in the Ruins
Publisher's Hardcover13.89
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Annotation: From beloved British storyteller Shirley Hughes comes a touching tale of unconditional love as a family puts itself back... more
Catalog Number: #155858
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7636-9237-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-7636-9237-7
Dewey: E
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Pounded by the Blitz, Ruby's London neighborhood celebrates the war's end in 1945, but she and her mother must wait longer for her father's return. Greeting him at the railway station, Ruby feels shy around the big, sunburned soldier she barely recognizes. One day she goes exploring with her friends, Len and Jimmy, sneaking into fenced-off areas full of rubble. When Ruby falls and cries, Jimmy runs for help. Dad soon carries her home, bandages her knee, and suggests that she avoid bomb sites in favor of the park. Grateful, Ruby warms to him, hugs him, and welcomes him home. Hughes, whose chapter book Whistling in the Dark (2017) told of an older girl's experiences in England during WWII, now offers a satisfying, realistic story for younger children. On the large double-page spreads, gouache paintings portray the characters with compassion. Bright colors seen in clothing and homes contrast with the grays and beiges of the rubble. Unusual mainly in its setting, this picture book presents postwar London from a child's point of view.
Horn Book
This companion to Penguin Problems stars Edward the Giraffe, who, as revealed in fidgety, conversational first-person text, is self-conscious about his too-long neck. Then downhearted Edward meets lonely turtle Cyrus; retrieving a banana from a tree for Cyrus changes Edward's perspective about his neck. Panels divide images during moments of conversation and contemplation, allowing characters' emotions and reactions to take center stage in the textured, muted illustrations.
Kirkus Reviews
Young Ruby and her mother have survived the London Blitz together; now Ruby must adjust to the return of her father.The first double-page spread situates readers emphatically: "1945 WORLD WAR II WAS OVER!" The text goes on to explain that men are now cleaning up rubble from bombed houses near Ruby and her mum's home. The duo is seen walking along in front of tall, chain-link fencing, behind which are ruined buildings and busy men in construction garb. The text skillfully incorporates concepts such as "Blitz," "air-raid shelter," and "extended leave" into Ruby's personal story. Young readers will easily empathize with both Ruby's shyness when her long-absent father returns and her understated resentment of her father's sudden, large presence in the home that had been only hers and her mum's for so long. Ruby's understanding mum allows her to explore outside with neighbor friends. An age-appropriate crisis ensues, creating a heartwarming ending to a sweet tale. Ruby, her family, and other primary characters are white, while large spreads include some people of color. The clothes and environmental details in the illustrations perfectly complement the text, as do the loose character drawings in the artist's signature style, with the judicious addition of bright colors that pop against the postwar gray and sepia. Endpapers with apparently authentic wartime ads are a nice finishing touch.A sweet celebration of familial love. (Picture book. 4-8)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4 It's 1945, and World War II is over. After many long nights huddled in bed with her mother during the London Blitz, Ruby and her neighbors celebrate victory and the impending return of many fathers. Ruby has to wait a long time, but finally her dad comes home, changing everything. Ruby's house feels crowded and she doesn't know how to act with this "big sunburned man." Ruby's relationship with her father remains distant until the day she falls playing on bomb rubble. Her father picks her up, carries her home, and isn't a bit mad. Ruby is so overjoyed that she hugs him and cries, "I'm so glad you're back!" With a classic, retro-look to it, this historical picture book is geared toward younger elementary schoolers. The straightforward third-person narrative is brief and printed in an easy to read font, although changes in time and place are occasionally jarring. The ink, gouache, and watercolor illustrations have a diffused Rockwell-esque charm. Hughes's period details and war-torn backdrops utilize color and line well, but they also upstage the stiff people. Much effort is made to convey emotion through facial expressions, but due to wooden features and a certain vacancy in the eyes, the characters never successfully connect to one another. Set against the rubble of war, this slight story seems to imply that although the war was scary, only the city has been truly effected. None of the returned soldiers are depicted as injured either physically or mentally. This rosy view prevents the story from having any real emotional impact. VERDICT An additional purchase for public libraries looking for historical picture books. Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (4/1/18)
Horn Book (4/1/19)
School Library Journal (5/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

From beloved British storyteller Shirley Hughes comes a touching tale of unconditional love as a family puts itself back together in postwar London.

Ruby and Mum cling to each other while they live through the terrifying London Blitz, waiting for Dad to come home from the war. Day after day they hope for his return — but when the moment to meet him at the station finally comes, Ruby hardly recognizes the tall man who steps off the train. He’s big and sunburned, and he doesn't seem to be as engaged as he once was. It’s easier to play outside in the wreckage of the bombings than to stay at home with a dad she doesn’t know anymore. But when Ruby hurts her knee in the ruins, there’s only one person who can rescue her and make her feel all right.

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