Ruby in the Ruins
Walker Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
“Ruby and Mum have lived through the terrifying London Blitz and are waiting for Dad to come home from the war. Ruby hardly recognizes the tall man who steps off the train, but when she falls in the ruins nearby, there’s only one person who she wants to rescue her.”
Even though the setting and time are very specific in this new story from multiple award-winner Shirley Hughes, it is one with universal application for all those children whose parents have been away for an extended time and their return means changes not just to regular routines but also having to get to know this stranger whose experiences have changed them as much as those left behind have changed. It also has particular application to many of Australia’s children as it could be the story of their grandparents and great-grandparents who came here after the huge disruptions caused by World War II, helping to put pictures into minds that previously had only heard words.
We are so lucky not to have known the devastation and death of war on our doorstep but many of our new arrivals may be more than familiar with the scenes and the experiences so it needs a sensitive and knowledgeable adult to share this story, particularly if it is read aloud to a class. An important story about the lives of children in another time while remembering it could also be the story of a child in our own time.