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The Kingdom By The Sea
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The Kingdom By The Sea

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  334 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Twelve-year-old Harry struggles to make it on his own after his family is lost in a German air raid. But as he and his dog companion journey along the northern English coast, there is never enough distance between them and the terrible war.
Published (first published 1990)
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Georgina Howlett
When one of my favourite teachers recommended this book to me, she said that Westall's writing style was like Michael Morpurgo's, only better. And I have to say, I completely agree with that after finishing this novel.

The novel is set during the Second World War, and follows Harry as his house is bombed and his family assumedly killed. Not wanting to be 'put into a home' or sent to live with his Cousin Elsie, he goes on the run, meeting a fellow stray in the form of Don the dog on the way. The b
Sep 02, 2010 added it
Shelves: world-war-ii
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Browning
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
A gorgeous book, genuinely moving and sweet. The characters, both good and bad, are subtle and realistic. Though the book is aimed at young adults, Westall doesn't patronise or shy away from more adult ideas, and for this reason, I found it still spoke to me, despite being many years outside the target audience. He doesn't try to lead the reader with absolutes, but plays the events and themes with ambiguities, particularly the ending - the supposed 'happy' ending unable to be just that after eve ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Hard to imagine a more inapposite cover. Well, for the ending. (view spoiler) It seems like a good book but a hard book to read. (In terms of the content, not the reading level.) There is also at least one scene with a sexual pre ...more
At times, the quality of writing was wonderful and I enjoyed the story a lot.

Then there were a couple of parts that crossed quite far into uncomfortable and combined with the jarring, perplexing ending, took this from great to "it's ok" for me.

It is not a book I would give anyone else's child. Different children can handle different things and I strongly recommend parents of impressionable children read this slender volume first.

Specific areas of concern with spoiler (view spoiler)
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love it when books suck you in from the very first page. The action never stops in this story as Harry tries to find his place in the world after his house is bombed during the Blitz. And, unlike other many other books that promise “extras” at the end, the bonus material here is well worth a read, with plenty of suggestions for further research.
I was a little surprised by some of the content - nothing happens, but there were a couple of “suggestive”scenes, so maybe not for young children. A ve
Dominic Righini-Brand
I failed to read this book as a child — so decided to give it a quick read! What I quite like about Robert Westall's wartime stories is his attention to detail and realistic locations. As the plot developed I could actually follow on my phone's map where the protagonist was heading. I believe this book is based in part on Westall's own childhood memories of the war growing up in South Shields area.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Un bel libro per ragazzi ambientato in Inghilterra nel corso della seconda guerra mondiale, con una storia di fughe e incontri bizzarri, alcuni piacevoli e altri meno, che metteranno a dura prova il protagonista dodicenne e il suo amico cane. In questo libro l'aspetto che risalta maggiormente, a parte la trama piuttosto interessante e avventurosa, sono le sensazioni e pensieri del protagonista, che sono espressi bene. Nonostante lo stile di scrittura semplice e non troppo approfondito è comunque ...more
Jamie (ReadsInTrees) Dacyczyn
I would have given this one three stars but for the ending, which kind of defeated the rest of the book for me.

Overall, this was a good little adventure story of a boy surviving on his own by the ocean after his home gets bombed out in WWII. "Episodic" is definitely the word for most of the story. Bad thing happens, then he finds a safe place, but then bad thing happens so he must move on. Finds a safe place, but then a bad thing happens, etc. In the beginning of the book, when he meets up with
Miss Amanda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The first novel I ever read. Intensely emotional for a young teenager. I could relate intimately to the pivotal character - with his youthful perspective on the world and people around him. His situation of loneliness in a war ravaged Britain, poses a challenge for the character and reader combined - such is Westall's ability to make you feel like you are with the protagonist at every page. When on a worrisome walkabout once, I almost slept under an upturned boat just like the character (I found ...more
This is a coming of age story about a boy and his dog, set in the north of England during WWII. Harry's adventure along the coast is fraught with challenge after challenge, and it seems that everyone he meets is two shades shy of normal. This is a bleak and flawed landscape, filled with people we fear, people we pity, people we would likely avoid. Harry pushes on with a wisdom well beyond his years, even as his country fights for its own existence. It is how he chooses to combat all these challe ...more
I wanted to like this book because I know my mum really loved it, but I just could not get into it at all. Clearly, the poor boy goes through an awful time and it absolutely demonstrates the horrors of the war, but I just couldn't sympathise with him at all. I felt the same about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas so I either have a particular issue with young boys caught up in WWII, or I'm dead inside...who knows!
Linda Lipko
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
A wonderful coming of age book regarding a twelve year old Enlgish boy whose house and family were bombed during WWII. While initially traveling alone, he finds a dog and both bond and search for a sense of belonging and a place to call home. Before finding their Kingdom by the Sea, they face many difficult situations.
This beautifully written gem is an incredible book. Once again Westall's young adult book deals with very heavy topics and leaves the reader in awe of his ability to search the sou
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, war
Excellent story of a young boy's survival after his family's home is bombed. Written as a children's story, it has some very dark and seriously unpleasant scenes, especially the ending. Some people may find this book to be inappropriate for children but today's middle- school-aged children have heard it all and should be able to handle it.

I'm hoping to find more books by this author (especially some of his many "cat" books).

This was the audio version of the book and the narrator, Ron Keith, was
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: - because i didn't enjoy it
Recommended to Ankit by: Teacher, class book
I didn't really like this story. It had a predictable story line 'Boy loses his parent and ends up finding refuge'. Harry is a 12 year old boy who 'loses' his parent and ends up finding a dog who accompanies him in his journey. Harry finds people who help him through his journey. At the end of the novel Harry finds his parents and they get angry at him for leaving the town that got bombed. I really didn't enjoy the ending, the overall book was ok, but the ending ruined it for me.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
I would give this a more favorable review but the ending was killer. Westfall built it up so high with this shiny possible new life and then pulled it right out from under you. I actually had one of those "throwing the physical book on the table because I'm that unhappy about this" moments. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it and found it believable from a tween's point of view.
Karsten Pearce
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Varsha Seshan
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sophie McKenzie is absolutely right when she says that Westall chose a third ending altogether! I enjoyed the book tremendously. The range of characters is incredible; the relationships drawn are beautiful.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This wonderful book has me out looking for the rest of this author's books. A wonderful adventure of a boy and his dog during WWII. Terrific growth in the character and a realistic ending. I wish there was a sequel, though the ending is very satisfying.
Jun 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Kingdom by the Sea was a wonderful book combining my three favorite styles of survival story. Wilderness Survival: your basic garden variety rough it style, urban survival: saving, buying, and, packing to make ends meet, and mid ground survival with no place to go using both styles to live.
Jeaneen Gauthier
I highly recommend this book by one of my new favorite writers. It's the adventures of a young English boy orphaned by the bombing of WWII.
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
like "Once" by Morris Gleitzman so I will recommend to the year 7's and 8's
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I always loved this book, and imagined I would kind of like an adventure like this -- if I knew my parents and sister were safe at home.
I can't say much about the ending. I pity the main character though. I wished there was a better ending but this is a bit of a realistic book. We can't always have a happy ending.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After reading The Machine Gunners at school (by the same author) I looked for another by Robert Westall and read this book - something about it captivated me as a young reader.
Carla Collins
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ending was a bummer.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite childhood book! A beautiful story.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

Robert Westall was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England in 1929.

His first published book The Machine Gunners (1975) which won him the Carnegie Medal is set in World War Two when a group of children living on Tyneside retrieve a machine-gun from a crashed German aircraft. He won the Carnegie Medal again i
More about Robert Westall...

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