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Monday, 26 January 2015

Gingerbread Men and Hot Cocoa

A nine-year-old girl has turned the clock back almost seventy years to write a touchingly perceptive story about two young evacuees.

Anya's story

Anya Baxter, a pupil at Kirkham Grammar School in Lancashire,  wrote the delightfully titled Gingerbread Men and Cocoa when she learnt how World War Two affected the people of Britain. The story follows an eleven-year-old girl and her six-year-old sister as they leave their mother and father to live with strangers far from home.

The story evokes a difficult time in our country's history when  children were expected to behave like adults - and most of them, thankfully, did.

To me, Anya's writing and  thought processes are far in advance of her years. As someone who has a passionate interest in the Occupation of the Channel Islands - my father was evacuated from Guernsey with his younger brother in 1940 - I thought I would share this with you.

Gingerbread Men and Hot Cocoa
Anya Baxter
aged nine

I was feeling sick. Outside it was getting darker and darker. We were nearly there. The train went over a huge bump.  My stomach did too! I began to look out of the window to see my surroundings. All that was around me was trees bushes and green farmland. I wonder if I'll live on  farm, I thought. I started to fiddle with my long, brown hair. My mother had put it into a plait to make me look presentable. I took my plait out carefully and put the bobble around my wrist.

Eventually we got there. We all clambered off the train. My teacher told us to walk towards a small group of houses. There in front of us stood lots and lots of adults. I looked down at my little sister, she was only six. She looked as scared as ever. Her little black cardigan barely fitted her and her long grey skirt was too tight at the waist. I was eleven. I  knew my sister might be separated from me, but I knew she would be brave. One by one the rest of the children around me and my sister got chosen.  Every now and them my sister gave me a nervous glance.  Now the only children left were a young brown-haired girl, a small blond boy and my sister and me.  I stared at the adults who were left. Not one of them looked as nice as my mother. I began to wonder what my mother was doing at that moment.

A man pointed at me and my sister. My stomach did a flip! He didn't look very rich at all.  I felt a shove on my back. It was my teacher. Slowly and steadily we walked towards the man. He picked up our bags and beckoned me to follow him. The man lead us to a black van. He loaded our bags into the van and told us to get in. It wasn't a very long journey.

 My sister kept looking out of the window at the back of the van. Suddenly the van stopped. We arrived at our new home. It didn't look as I thought it would. We were told to get out of the van. Nervously I placed a foot on the smooth gravel and climbed out.  In front of me was a neat lawn and six symmetrical flower beds. We walked up to the front door and stepped inside the house. The man's wife was lovely. She had made us some gingerbread men and hot cocoa. They were delicious. The man's wife lead us through the old house to our bedroom. It was quite small, but quite spacious.  For tea we had fresh tomato soup and homemade bread. I thought, when I went to bed that night, about where tomorrow would take me and what would happen.

Do let me know what you think of Anya's story.


Heather Burnside said...

What a lovely, touching story and so well written for a child of that age. :)

Guernsey Girl said...

I thought so too - especially as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ending of World War Two. I hope Anya keeps on writing...

Norah Colvin said...

That is beautiful writing, Marilyn. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. It is very evocative. Anya has captured the atmosphere and thinking very well. I see a lot of potential there.

Guernsey Girl said...

I'm so glad that you agree, Norah. Anya will be thrilled with your comment and, hopefully encouraged to keep practising her writing.

Another Guernseyman said...

Congratulations, Anya! I think we should all teach our children to write stories.

Guernsey Girl said...

I agree - especially if it helps them understand their heritage. Thanks for coming by to read the story. :)