Title: The God of All Small Boys
Author: Joseph Lamb
Publisher: Cranachan Publishing
Publication date: Out now
When his father goes to fight in the war, 11-year-old James is sent to live with his mill-town relatives and his cousin, Billy.
At first, James feels lost and alone: his cousin hates him, the school bully is after him, and he is worried about his father’s safety.
Gradually, he finds a new world of friendship, freedom, fun, and The God of All Small Boys, in a summer that will change his life forever…
Some of my best memories of childhood involve long, hot Summer nights. Playing out until it got too dark to see or someone got called in for their bath. The God of All Small Boys, despite being set nearly 70 years before I was born, made me long for those carefree days.
For children like James, they were not carefree. Every day, they ran the gauntlet of not knowing if their family members would come back from fighting in the war. Who would be next to receive a letter to say their loved one was not coming back?
This wonderful book is a reminder of how we are all equal. We may live different lives, with some having more possessions and money than others, but in times of war, none of that matters. What you do or do not have cannot protect you from the horrors that ensued or whether you went home alive.
This book would be perfect for educating children about what life was like during these times and the anxiety of not knowing if life would ever be the same again.
In conversation with Joe Lamb
So, what made Joe want to tell this story?
This story has been with me for over 40yrs, because, you know… I’M REALLY old! 🙂
A lot of it is based on actual events that happened in the mid to late 1970’s with myself and my wee gang of pals, during a time when the part of Dundee, now known as Ardler Village, was right on the verge of turning from a sprawling piece of waste land, with some old berry fields at one end, into a newly developed—and in the process of being built—housing scheme.
And, while the scrublands were about to be developed for the beginnings of the Dryburgh Industrial Estate, the wide and steep fields were covered in very tall grasses. And we did indeed find a huge hole, which we made into a den, in almost exactly the same way as described in the book.
It might be a little clichéd to say that ‘those events have been in my memory forever’… but it’s actually true. A great deal of the events which happen in the book are taken from real life.
I had initially written it out as a short story, set in the period when it actually happened, and had always wanted to expand it into a full novel. But it wasn’t until the Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize was announced that I had the proper impetus to do so.
Ultimately, with there being so many things from my own childhood in the book, as well as snippets from my parents and grandparents’ lives—and given that two of the main characters (James and Teeny) are the actual names (and a bit of the personalities) of my maternal grandparents—as well as my mother and siblings appearing in the book itself, the whole thing really is a love letter to my family!
About the author
You can pre-order this wonderful book from your local indie bookshop or by purchasing directly through Cranachan Publishing.
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Have you read The God of All Small Boys? Planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments below!