Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
Alec Shorecross is 14 and has already left school to work in the local mine. He's paid 13 cents an hour to toil in the underground darkness. When war breaks out, Alec ships overseas in search of a different life and a way to contribute. He dreams of doing something heroic but soon Alec finds himself underground again. While soldiers and aircraft engage in battles on the ground and in the sky, down, deep below the surface Alec joins the invisible crew of combatants who risk their lives building tunnels so that they can place mines beneath enemy territory. This dramatic and realistic story shows us a little-known side of war and the role of one brave and determined young man.
About the author
John Wilson was born in 1951 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He did his early growing up on the Island of Skye and in Paisley, near Glasgow. From 1969 to 1974, he attended the University of St. Andrews where he took an Honours B.Sc.. in Geology and never played golf once. He took a position with the Geological Survey of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In his two years there, he mapped rocks, dodged land mines and watched the country sink ever deeper into civil war. Shortly before he was due to be called into the army, John retreated back to Britain on his way to the safety of Canada. He settled on Calgary where geology was booming and the only danger was freezing to death in January. In 1979, he moved to Edmonton to take up a post with the Alberta Geological Survey. In 1988 he sold a feature article to the Globe and Mail. This fueled a smouldering mid-life crisis and he took up freelance writing full-time. With some success, John mined the experiences of his travels for articles, journalism and photo essays. He even began to express himself poetically and, with a young family, began writing children's stories. He moved to Nanaimo and then Lantzville on Vancouver Island. John has been widely published by a number of Canadian presses, with his acolades including a shortlisting for the Governor General’s Award.
"A fast-moving, gripping take on a little-explored side of the war effort." —National Reading Campaign
"Young readers might be familiar with trench warfare of World War I, but this part of the early war will likely be new and fascinating to them, and Wilson ably evokes the claustrophobic, dark terror of the underground war and the coming of age of young men amid the battles. . . . A fascinating war tale that will have young readers digging in for a captivating read."