Title: Ruby in the Ruins
Author: Shirley Hughes
Illustrator: Shirley Hughes
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Paperback
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Description:  Ruby and Mum 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 she wants to rescue her.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is a lovely story set just after the Second World War. The war has finally finished and Ruby and her mum have had to cope on their own while her father has been away fighting. One day he finally comes home but when he does, Ruby isn’t quite sure if she’s happy that he’s back or how she really feels about him. The paperback is filled with glossy colourful pages with lots of lovely colourful illustrations and some text.

Ruby in the Ruins book page image one
©The Strawberry Post


I’ve always enjoyed stories set around the Second World War and this one has a particular charm with the illustrations. Ruby does things and thinks like any child would today and when her father comes home from the war she feels nervous. She doesn’t really get along with him at first, not even remembering some things about him, and instead turns to playing games outdoors with the other children in the neighbourhood. The story is simple but it has a lovely feel to it and when Ruby gets into trouble, her father is there to help her. The last page with Ruby and her dad is a lovely one and I couldn’t help but smile after reading this.

The illustrations make the story all the better and I love how expressive Ruby is. You can see the fear or worry in some pages and I’m sure children will be able to relate to similar situations in modern life where they may have been scared or nervous about something. Somehow the illustrations fit perfectuly in with the time period too and I’ve really grown to enjoy Shirley Hughes’s unique style!

Ruby in the Ruins book page image two
©The Strawberry Post


The story is a good introduction to teach kids about the second world war and it can be a good place to start the tough subject, given that the story is set after the war is over and things are getting better. I’m sure children will be able to understand and even relate in some way to how Ruby feels. The inside back and front covers have some faint but still visible adverts/information from the time period, these look like real newspaper adverts for things like sandwich recipes and information about rubber shoe soles and ration books, etc. which was also fun to look at and an additional thing to talk about with kids when reading this.

Overall, despite feeeling a bit short for me, this was a lovely story to read and I do hope to see more books set in the past from the author in the future.

Do you like this book?  What about books that tackle subjects like war with children?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂