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Josie Under Fire

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Click on the links to visit the recommended websites or to print out a plan of the house.

Girls at War

House plan of No 6 Chelsea Walk in 1941

Adobe PDF

London and the Blitz

Everyday life during the war

Conscientious objectors in World War Two

Dealing with bullying


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About this book

The Historical House
Josie Under Fire

  • Part of a series of stories about fictional characters living through real-life historical events, and set in a real house: No. 6 Chelsea Walk, London.
  • Each novel explores an historical era from a child's perspective
  • Beautifully captures the heroine's ambitions, struggles and desires
  • Includes internet links to recommended websites where readers can find out more life in London during the Blitz.

It is 1941 and London is suffering from the Blitz. Josie finds it hard to understand her brother’s decision to be a conscientious objector. But when she moves to a new school and is drawn into tormenting one of her classmates, Josie learns what it means to stand up for her own beliefs.

Ann Turnbull

Ann Turnbull

Ann Turnbull was born in Hertford during World War II. She knew from the age of ten that she wanted to be a writer and has written more than 25 books for children, including Pigeon Summer, which was shortlisted for the Smarties Book Prize. She is married with two children and now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and her tabby cat, Claude.

Visit the author’s website,, for more information.

Press Reviews

The premise of Usborne's Historical House series is a delightful one: a single house in Chelsea forms the backdrop for a set of stories spanning 200 years. Written by three acclaimed authors, each focuses on an atmospheric period.
These are engaging novels, immaculately researched and quietly informative. They can be read in any order; those who read them all will be thrilled by the occasional links that draw characters together across generations.

Kate Agnew, EducationGuardian
London 1941. When 12-year-old Josie goes to stay with her cousin Edith in Chelsea, she is glad to start her new life. Back home, everyone knows that her pacifist brother Ted refused to join up, and she is taunted about it at school. When she starts at Edith's school, she is desperate to fit in and get the approval of Edith's friends.
Edith is also something of a rebel. After school, she takes Josie to play illegally on a bomb site, where they meet three local lads, one of whom, Vic, loots bombed-out homes. Josie enjoys the boys' attention, but is shocked by the looting. When they all tease the school swot Alice, Josie feels sorry for her - she knows what it's like not to fit in. She is torn two ways, she longs to speak out against Vic and to stand up for Alice, but, if she does, will Edith give away the secret about Ted?
Ann Turnbull's theme is peer group pressure and how difficult it is to resist - and she doesn't pull her punches. The tension is notched up by the gradual escalation of the bullying of poor Alice. It tightens even more when Josie learns a secret about Alice which, if she told the boys and Edith's friends, would guarantee her own popularity but make Alice even more unpopular. Will Josie betray Alice or her own conscience? It is a dilemma most children will recognize: how to resist peer group pressure without being made a scapegoat oneself.
This book would also be an excellent introduction to a study of the Home Front during World War 2. The research is impeccable, and Ann Turnbull gives us the zeitgeist as well as illuminating the ups and downs of everyday life during the Blitz. Highly recommended for girls aged 8+.

Elizabeth Hawksley, Historical Novels Review

Reader Reviews

Josie Under Fire
The book was extremely moving and exciting. It was one of the best books I have ever read. My favourite character was Josie because she was strong and determined throughout the novel. It ties in with my study of the history of World War Two.

Christopher Tovey, 29th October 2012

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Also by Ann Turnbull

6 Chelsea Walk

The Historical House

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