Summary and book reviews of London Calling by Edward Bloor

London Calling

by Edward Bloor

London Calling
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2008, 304 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

In the summer after 7th grade Martin meets a boy in a dream who will change his life forever. Where did this boy come from? Is he a dream? But how can his dreams be set in London during the Blitz? How can he wake up with a head full of people and facts and events that he certainly didn't know when he went to sleep--but which turn out to be verifiably real? Recommended for ages 11-15.

Martin Conway comes from a family filled with heroes and disgraces. His grandfather was a statesman who worked at the US Embassy in London during WWII. His father is an alcoholic who left his family. His sister is an overachieving Ivy League graduate. And Martin? Martin is stuck in between--floundering.

But during the summer after 7th grade, Martin meets a boy who will change his life forever. Jimmy Harker appears one night with a deceptively simple question: Will you help?

Where did this boy come from, with his strange accent and urgent request? Is he a dream? It's the most vivid dream Martin's ever had. And he meets Jimmy again and again--but how can his dreams be set in London during the Blitz? How can he see his own grandather, standing outside the Embassy? How can he wake up with a head full of people and facts and events that he certainly didn't know when he went to sleep--but which turn out to be verifiably real?

The people and the scenes Martin witnesses have a profound effect on him. They become almost more real to him than his waking companions. And he begins to believe that maybe he can help Jimmy. Or maybe that he must help Jimmy, precisely because all logic and reason argue against it.

This is a truly remarkable and deeply affecting novel about fathers and sons, heroes and scapegoats. About finding a way to live with faith and honor and integrity. And about having an answer to the question: What did you do to help?

The Heroes’ Walk

Looking back now, I can see that I spent my seventh-grade year in a state of depression, imprisoned behind the red-brick, black-iron walls of All Souls Preparatory. All Souls is a private, mostly Catholic school in Bethel, New Jersey, about twenty miles east of Princeton.

Back when I was a student, All Souls had two prominent statues on the campus. Franklin D. Roosevelt stood outside the Student Center, which was a little strange since the real President Roosevelt couldn’t stand. Yet there he was, with one hand on a cane and the other hand raised in a friendly wave. John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, stood outside Kennedy Hall. He was pointing energetically into the air, as if he were speaking.

On the last day of school that year, I was sitting in class in Kennedy Hall and looking through the window at FDR. Across the road, the Lowery Library was nearing the end of a major renovation. As part of this, Father Thomas, the headmaster of...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Martin freezes after he is slapped in the face by Lowery, but he hates himself for his cowardly reaction. (p. 13) Why does he react the way he does? What would be a more appropriate reaction? Does the punishment he receives fit the crime? Why or why not?

  2. After Martin and his mother meet with Father Thomas about the fight, Martin’ mother tells him, “ow you will live in the future depends on how you live now in the present.”(p. 27) What decisions does Martin make in the present that will affect his future? How will his decisions positively impact his life?

  3. Martin’ sister and friends show concern for Martin’ emotional well-being, fearing he is suffering from depression; even Martin, who says his days ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The action took a little too long to pick up, it wasn't until about 1/3 of the way through the book that Martin had his first time travel experience. However, the reader who gets through this long build up will find him or herself truly engaged in Martin's life and will be ready to root for him as he takes on his personal demons and rights some historical wrongs. Recommended for teen readers aged about 11-15 who enjoy historical fiction and are mature enough to enjoy a book that poses more questions than it gives answers.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (744 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist - Jennifer Mattson

Ambitious yet unwieldy, this may work best as a fictional supplement in history classrooms, where it will open discussions of both the slippery qualities of historical truth ("Who decides what the real history of a time is?") and the nature of genuine heroism.

Kirkus Reviews

The history and ethics are fascinating but are treated to a shallow ending, and though the characters are compelling, the dropped threads will make readers tune out.

School Library Journal

Evocative descriptions and elegant phrasings make the writing most enjoyable, and because the author uses a first-person voice, the story seems very personal, and readers will feel Martins turmoil and angst.

Kliatt

Bloor... neatly ties up all the strands in this tale of historical intrigue and wrongs righted. Martin's determination and the vivid scenes of London during the Blitz are sure to appeal.

Reader Reviews

Larry Rose

London Calling
This story is a great book. I believe the action starts at the perfect time and everything fits in well. I do believe the air-raid attacks are thrilling and frighting. This story of Martin is great beyond my expectations, and will let you shed a tear...   Read More

Unique Preston

Great job .
The best book I have ever read . I can read it over and over and not get bored with it.

camppruitt

great read for dads - great read for sons
A happenstance choice for me, this book resonated because I'm a grandson, a son, a dad and a grandfather! at age 52 I can relate to every relationship in the book! What a great reminder of the angst young teens experience - and, which we carry ...   Read More

Sana

Wouldn't Recommend ...
I wouldn't recommend this book. In the beginning it was interesting but in the middle , it got me bored. I had to read it for school, for a book report.

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Beyond the Book

Edward Bloor is the author of Tangerine (1997), Crusader (1999), Story Time (2004) London Calling (2006) and Taken (2007). Tangerine was an ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, a Horn Book Fanfare Selection, and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book.

Formerly, an English teacher in Florida public high schools, he became a senior editor at Harcourt Brace School Publishers in 1986. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1950, educated at Fordham University and is married to Pamela Dixon, a teacher. They have a daughter and son, and live in Winter ...

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