While the Storm Rages

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Pub Date 2 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 31 May 2022

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September 1939. Britain is on the brink of war.

As Noah Price’s dad marches off to fight, he asks his son to honour one vital promise: that he will keep their dog, Winn, safe. No matter what. Noah agrees, but his best intentions are crushed when the government advises people to have their pets put to sleep as part of the war preparations. Children are heartbroken, queues outside vets’ surgeries stretch for miles. But Noah is a resourceful and impetuous child. He won’t just do what he is told. Far from it. With his two friends in tow, he makes a pledge. To go on the run, and save as many animals as he can, whatever the cost.

So begins the most thrilling of adventures, involving a stolen ark, a motley crew of animals and a crashed Spitfire. Can Noah possibly save the animals, and lead them all to the promised land?

September 1939. Britain is on the brink of war.

As Noah Price’s dad marches off to fight, he asks his son to honour one vital promise: that he will keep their dog, Winn, safe. No matter what. Noah...

Advance Praise

'A truly brilliant story of courage and resilience and exceptional animals. This wartime ‘Incredible journey’ (only far, far better) is definitely Phil Earle’s best yet' Emma Carroll 

'Another stunning read from one of the most authentic storytellers writing for children today' Lesley Parr, author of The Valley of Lost Secrets 

'A big-hearted adventure with big-hearted kids desperately fighting to do the right thing in a messed-up world – the kind of story I adore' Keith Gray 

'A truly brilliant story of courage and resilience and exceptional animals. This wartime ‘Incredible journey’ (only far, far better) is definitely Phil Earle’s best yet' Emma Carroll 


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ISBN 9781839132056
PRICE £7.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 14 members

Featured Reviews

Phil Earle has done it again, firmly cementing his place as one of the foremost authors of historical fiction for children. His powerful stories are destined to become classics with their honesty and relatable characters who portray the heart of everyday people in the uncertainty of war.

While the Storm Rages is an emotion-driven story, full of the strength of children in crisis – the story of a boy’s love for his dog in the midst of a crumbling world and far too many goodbyes.

Set in London at the dawn of the Second World War, Noah’s life becomes a combination of waiting and what ifs as his father enlists. All Noah has to hold onto is a promise – if Noah keeps his beloved dog Winn safe, his father will stay safe and return to them. As war is declared, Noah is devastated to read the government guidance that all pets should be humanely destroyed and children are to be evacuated. There is no way he can let Winn go and fail to keep his promise.

With the help of his best friend Clem, her elderly dachshund Frank, the local bully Big Col and his pet python Delilah, Noah embarks on a runaway rescue mission. If only he can get the pets to a wealthy animal-loving duchess in the countryside, he knows they’ll be safe. Along the way, this unlikely trio and their animal companions face unforetold dangers. They are forced to discover what it means to be brave and just what they’re made of. Responsibility for another living thing proves to be more than they ever realised – food, water, warmth, safety… things they once took for granted are now everything.

So often, stories of war focus on the impact on people and nations. Like When the Sky Falls, While the Storm Rages explores what happened to the animals when war reached British shores. They weren’t welcome in air raid shelters, the bombs would terrify them and there would be hardly enough food for people, let alone cats and dogs. What the government didn’t consider in their advice was the passion of children for their pets. One of the most important things in the world to a child is their canine or feline companion. To these little people (and many adults as well), these creatures are so much more than animals – they are members of the family, loved fiercely and protected above all else. This story is a horror of war children will understand.

Suitable for a slightly younger audience than When the Sky Falls, children from Year 3 upwards would engage well with this story. There is so much scope for discussion. Was the government right in their advice? Should Noah have runaway with the animals? What would you do in this situation? Adults need to be aware that the book includes sensitively described animal death and parts of the adventure are quite tense. There is a real sadness that children may find challenging as they become a part of the story. This opportunity for the development of empathy will be powerful.

I am so grateful to Andersen Press for an early copy of this incredible book. I’m looking forward to seeing it enjoyed by children and adults when it is published in June 2022 and will be very interested to see how teachers make use of this valuable story in the classroom.

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The story opens in London at the dawn of World War II, where Noah is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life. What follows is an emotional journey along the Thames on a barely seaworthy boat, accompanied by Noah’s best friend, a school bully, and an assortment of pets.

The novel is partly based on true events: until I read this book, I had never heard of the cull of British pets at the start of the Second World War.

This is a beautiful story about friends sticking together, about the bond between children and their pets, and about coming of age in times of war. It is a worthy follow-up to Phil Earle’s previous novel, When The Sky Falls.

Thank you to NetGalley and Andersen Press for the digital reading copy.

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A book that explores the love we share for our beloved pets and animals, WHILE THE STORM RAGES is both heart-warming and heart-breaking.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Earle's previous book, WHEN THE SKY FALLS, I knew I had to read this one when I saw it.

Naturally, war + pets = recipe for emotional wreckage, so I went into this book fully expecting to feel ricocheting emotions. The book opens with a promise; as Noah's dad goes off to join the war effort, he makes Noah swear to keep their dog safe. Noah, reckless but loyal, takes this promise literally – that regardless of the government mandate to put down pets humanely, he refuses to part with Winn. So begins a cross-country adventure involving a boat, two dogs, two kittens, a python and a donkey.

Earle has a huge talent for writing realistic relationships full of the ups and downs of life. Noah is joined in his adventure with Clem, his clever best friend, and Big Col, the local school bully. Their dynamic was brilliantly fun. Noah has such a great sense of humour and wit, and he bounces off the others well. Not to forget the pets, of course, which add a sense of brevity to even serious situations (I mean, how could they not when you have a donkey!).

If you manage to suspend your disbelief for the absurd premise – like how three twelve-year-olds could make it down the Thames for several days without being caught by police or Good Samaritans alike – then you'll be treated to a heart-warming story about the love we share for our pets and animals, and the bonds formed in times of strife. Without giving away too many spoilers, there is a sort of 'countdown' that occurs as the story progresses, which only adds to the urgency of Noah's quest. Once I realised it was happening I was torn up!

Funny, real, heart-warming and heart-breaking, WHILE THE STORM RAGES is another brilliant adventure from Earle.


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This is such a wonderful read (no surprise there I’ve loved Phil’s work for a long time now)

I love stories set in and around big events as they add a real human element to the history and this is certainly one I’ll be recommending to my ks3 classes to compliment my WW2 unit

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An utterly fabulous story set at the very beginning of WWII. Noah and his friends are faced with the horrific news that not only are they going to be evacuated before the bombing starts, but that the government has ordered all pets to be put down. For Noah, this presents the worst of dilemmas, since his dad (who has gone to fight in the war) promised that as long as Noah could keep their dog, Winn, safe, then he would return safely from the war. Noah is convinced that if he allows Winn to be put down, dad will not come home. So, determined to keep his word, Noah hatches a plan to keep Winn alive - a plan that ends up including an adventure on a boat, his best friend and her rather fragile dog, two mischievous kittens, a rather large donkey in a straw hat, a police chase and a bully with a terrifying python! A captivating story from beginning to end - as beautiful as it is devastating. Fantastic!

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