My book review of 'Code Name Kingfisher' by Liz Kessler

by Liz Kessler
Recommended age: 9+
Code Name Kingfisher
by Liz Kessler

With its beautiful cover and intriguing title, and an author who is familiar through her various previous bestselling books, I was keen to read this story but it follows last week's recommendation in being another wartime tale.

We begin in present day Britain. Our narrator is a young girl tasked with compiling her family tree.

Liv is having trouble at school. Her best friend has swapped allegiance and is now in a group which is bullying Liv. At home things aren't as good as they could be either as mum is always busy at work and Liv's grandmother has to be moved into a care home.

But Liv makes a new friend in Gabi and a school project helps her to see her grandmother in a new light.

Liv finds a box of letters and photographs revealing details about her grandmother's childhood - things even Liv's father didn't know.

And we learn of Mila's story in this dual narrative book. 

In Holland in 1942, Mila (Liv's grandmother) is twelve and, with her older sister Hannie, she has been sent to live with a family in another city. They are both given new identities and the strict instruction not to tell anyone that they are Jewish.

Hannie, determined to fight back, becomes a member of the Dutch resistance as an undercover agent, Code Name Kingfisher. Neither girl knows who they can really trust and Mila has been living with the consequences all her life.  

This is a powerful book which beautifully balances the present day with the wartime events. There are challenging and poignant aspects to the storyline but there's also hope and reconciliation, and positive messages of friendship and family.

Date of this review: September 2023
Book publication date: 14th September 2023