Following the travails of Angelo and his papa this novel traces the origins and evolution of a design classic, the Citroen 2CV, from the factories of pre-war Paris to the occupied rural landscape of France.
The difficulties of creating an affordable car that will cope with the rough terrain are recounted and there are many setbacks, and due to his Italian parentage Angelo and his father are suspected to be collaborators. I enjoyed the chapters in which the villagers helped to conceal the prototype from the occupiers. Anyone who has been in a 2CV should expect a bumpy ride.
Constructed loosely around true events this is written with a light touch in pacy, short chapters with attractive illustrations by Sam Usher. It is written in the first person throughout, which I found difficult initially, but the story and the characters won me over. In a world enveloped in war this is a curious story, something unusual - a victory for the common man, for idealists and the dreamers of dreams. If your child has been Morpurgo'd and you are looking for something slightly different it might be worth cranking this one up and giving it a spin..
Other favourite World War II stories include Blitzcat, The Machine Gunners, Hitler's Canary, Auslander, Codename Verity, My Brother's Secret, the Megan Rix animal stories...