Little Apple Book of the Week

Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington (Hot Key hardback, £10.99, for age 12+)

Red Ribbon is a very gripping and sensitive holocaust novel about two friends, Ella and Rose, who manage to prolong their lives in Birchwood (Auschwitz) by becoming seamstresses, making clothes for the Commandant’s wife.

While not shirking from showing us the horrors that surround them both, this book is mindful of its young audience, and shows us that human spirit, friendship and imagination can prevail even in the most extreme circumstances.

Ella is a very engaging central character. Her reminiscences of home are made very bittersweet by our suspicions that her grandparents have not themselves survived and the reader can share in her dreams of opening a dress shop, however unlikely the reality.

The supporting characters, all referred to by their corresponding animal name by Ella, show us the war-time experiences of a wide variety of people, and through them and Ella, this book asks us all questions about how far we would go ourselves in order to survive.

A very good Young Adult read for age 12 and above, and not just for those with an interest in dress-making!

Lucy Adlington will be at Mount School on March 19 as part of York Literature Festival, where she will be talking about Red Ribbon, taking questions and offering us a closer look at a display of original garments and accessories.

Reviewed by Tim Curtis, Little Apple Bookshop