Eloise lives with her grandmother (her Amma) in Nazi occupied France during the Second World War. When her father disappears, she is determined to find him and manages to earn a place in the local Resistance group. Will her father’s advice about safe routes through the woods and the tricks of her favourite detective Monsieur X help her keep safe and discover where her father is being held?
After twists, turns and surprises the story is brought to a satisfyingly positive ending. The danger of the situation is dealt with sensitively, but harsh reality is not shied away from. The story gives the opportunity to discuss the historical context of disappearances of Jewish and Gypsy people during the occupation and the role of resistance.
This is a page-turning historical adventure story which explores trust, friendship, loyalty, and the importance of holding onto hope.
Talk about the story
Imagine you are in the story, which character would you like to be?
Talk about Eloise and her feelings about her friend Albert and why he may have acted as he did.
What were the most surprising parts of the story?
Were any parts puzzling? Children might want to talk about what happened to Maddie and her family and others who had disappeared from the village. This could lead to discussions about concentration camps and the Holocaust. See links below for suitable information sites for children.
If Eloise could meet and talk to her mother again what might she say to her or want to ask her?
Things to make and do
Make a story map
On a big piece of paper draw a map of the places in the story including Amma and Eloise’s house, the Maison de Noyer, Maddie’s home behind it, the church, the woods and safe route through it and the river.
Be a spy and send a secret message inside a bread roll
Make some bread dough. Shape into rolls or small baguettes. Slide in a small piece of paper with a ‘secret’ message written on it into one of the rolls before baking. If you bake for the family or friends it would be fun to see who gets the message in their roll. See some suggested recipes
How to be a spy
Write Eloise’s instructions using what she learnt from Monsieur X’s stories (including how to spot if someone is lying!) and what she learns from her father and while working for the French Resistance.
Learn to write and send messages in Morse Code
Try writing and ‘sending’ Morse code message using the alphabet of dots and dashes. See here for the Morse code
Write an imaginary letter
Write an imaginary letter from Eloise to her mother. What would she like to ask her or tell her?
See our print-off activity book with some of these ideas and other activities
Find out more
Find out about author Sarah Baker
See teaching notes Sarah has created based on the book.
Read another story by Sarah Baker Through the Mirror Door
Look at a map of France
Find the setting of the story around Amboise and the river Loire in France.
Find out more about the French Resistance here
Listen to a sound file of someone who carried messages for the Resistance as a child, just like Eloise does in the story.
NB This clip has been selected from a much longer Canadian broadcast which adults may be interested in listening to.
Find out about Yvonne Rudellat, who worked for the Resistance and is a character in the story
Find out about the Holocaust.