Connecting with other writers, and sharing their work, is something I love to do here on my site. It is one of the reasons I started blogging and reviewing back in 2013.
One of my weekly tasks is to run the Writing Studio Thread on the Lightbox Originals Facebook Group. If you’d like to join this group, founded by Loretta Milan, feel free to click HERE). Through that group I’ve met a wonderful bunch of writers and poets.
Kim M.Russell is an active member of the group, and after chatting with her about the importance of setting in your writing, she mentioned her latest novel, Joe and Nelly. I couldn’t resist, and asked if I could share it with my audience.
If you enjoy middle-grade WWII ghost stories then Joe and Nelly is for you.
When Joe returns from evacuation in Wales, he’s keen to get back to normal with his parents, but their house has been bombed, his mum has moved in with his grandparents, and she’s working on the buses while his dad fights in Belgium.
Feeling lonely in a house full of adults, he visits the ruins where his home used to be and finds Nelly, the girl from next door, on the remains of the front steps. They spend every day together: Joe tells Nelly about his time in Wales and she helps him find things in the rubble.
Joe puts himself in danger in a quest to help Nelly find her parents and learns some difficult lessons about life and death in the aftermath of the Blitz.
Kim M. Russell has been writing poetry and stories since she was a schoolgirl, but only found the time to write Joe and Nelly when she retired from teaching. She posts mainly poetry and short stories on her WordPress blog, writinginnorthnorfolk.com, and is a host of the on-line international writing community dVerse Poets Pub.
Her work has been published on-line on Visual Verse, Carpe Diem and Pure Haiku, as well as in the following printed anthologies: Poetry Rivals and Love’s Labyrinth (Forward Press), Afflatus Magazine, River Writers (Bure Navigation Conservation Trust), The Emma Press Anthology of Aunts and Second Place Rosette, Peeking Cat Anthologies 2017 and 2018, and Flash! I love you! from Paper Swans Press. She is currently working on another ghost story for young adults, which is set in Norfolk.
Joe and Nelly was longlisted in the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition 2016.
Praise for Joe and Nelly
‘This story is set in London during World War Two. Young Joe has returned from evacuation in Wales although the war is still going on. His best friend, Nelly, never got on the evacuation train. Joe’s father is fighting on the front lines and his mother drives a bus. His grandparents take care of him and provide lodging to those who lost their homes during the bombings. There is also a marvelous parrot, Monty. All of these characters grow in realism as one reads what they do from chapter to chapter.
Joe has a special ability to see ghosts. This ability allowed him with the help of these others to bring mysteries to light. What I find amazing about the tale is that every struggle for understanding required an outpouring of empathy and that empathy was rewarded. As a reader I felt as if I were also a recipient of that empathy just by hearing it.
This is not a Cinderella tale. There is plenty of realistic death, guilt and fear involved. But it is a story that in spite of all of this goodness overcame these circumstances. That is what should make this story a joy to read to or with one’s own children.’ Frank Hubeny, Reviewer