Winter 1943. Teenagers Frank, Joseph and Stephen are Royal Navy recruits on their first mission at sea during the Second World War. Their ship is part of an Arctic convoy sailing to Russia to deliver supplies to the Soviets. The convoys have to navigate treacherous waters, sailing through a narrow channel between the Arctic ice pack and German bases on the Norwegian coast. Faced with terrifying enemy attacks from both air and sea, as well as life-threatening cold, gales and pack ice, will all three boys make it home again?
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“One of the best children’s books about WW2” The School Run
“It is difficult to overstate how good this book is. In terms of a book for a classroom read or book study, particularly if learning about WW2, this is perfect. The pace of the story ebbs and flows, is beautifully, masterfully crafted. The vocabulary is rich but accessible. The incidental learning opportunities from this book are immense and the opportunities for explicit cross curricula learning in Geography (weather, sea, maps) and science (periscopes, how sound travels, friction and streamlining, states of matter) are endless. Children who are already familiar with Tom’s work will love this. As someone who has read and admired many of Tom’s previous books, I honestly think this is his best yet.” Kim Gibbins
I am thrilled that Arctic Star has been longlisted for the Dudley Children’s Book 2021 Award. Thank you to all their hardworking school librarians.
Arctic Star has also been chosen by LoveReading as a 2021 Star Book and has been chosen by Toppsta in their big Summer Reading Feature.
Launch day film
“Told in Tom’s now trademark historically accurate style, and with obvious admiration and well-deserved respect for those whose story he is recounting, the story doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of war … Yet another brilliant story from Tom Palmer” @richreadalot
“Well, you’ve done it again @tompalmerauthor Wow. I have relived the adrenaline rush and the incredibly dark fear you depict so well. The battles gave me goosebumps and the strong bonds between the men were moving.” Dr Laura Ovenden
The Arctic Star medal was awarded to British and Commonwealth forces who served on these ships north of the Arctic Circle during the Second World War, in recognition of the reality that service on the Arctic convoys was entirely different from other tours – characterised by particularly severe conditions, as described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”.
“Nothing about Tom’s work is overdone or overwritten or wasteful. He provides just the right amount of carefully researched historical details that add to the authenticity but which will also appeal strongly to children.The detail of the kyr – the hot chocolate drink made from melting solid chocolate with a steam blaster; the game Urckers – the seamen played to pass the time; the ship’s cat Frankenstein who provided distraction and entertainment. His setting descriptions are vivid, visceral and powerful but rooted in the purpose of the narrative. The weather, the sea conditions, the organisation of the ship, are so important to the story they are almost characters themselves. The threat of the Scharnhorst, a vast enemy naval ship, looms menacingly over the plot, almost like a sea monster. A yearning for a different peaceful world is shown with the juxtaposition of the Aurora Borealis and the light from explosions, the sound of the song of a whale and the sound of a Nazi reconnaissance plane.” Kim Gibbins
Read Chapter 1 here.
Blackout Poem Challenge here.
with an optional signed certificate if used to mark Armed Forces Day Saturday 26 June 2021.
Cover prediction worksheets here
Colouring here . Use your imagination to draw and colour the planes in the sky and submarines in the sea below during the Battle of the North Cape or what young naval recruits can see on their lookout.
Book Trailer here
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“Arctic Star is a brilliant read, a real eye opener to conditions on board in the extreme icy conditions and the real life scenarios of being on a HMS in war time. Absolutely recommended.” Fiona Sharp
— Tom Palmer (@tompalmerauthor) April 22, 2021
Researching Arctic Star
Rooted in the real-life story of the Arctic convoys, Arctic Star was researched with the support of HMS Belfast, the Imperial War Museum and The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum .
I’ve collaborated with the Imperial War Museum for a few years now and by accessing their amazing resources I have done my best to tell the story of the Arctic convoys. I listened to hours of interviews with sailors, watched films and studied photographs and art from the convoys, as well as visiting HMS Belfast on which the book is set.
I have never researched anything more terrifying that servicemen and women have been involved in – and I’ve researched a lot. Anyone who earned the Arctic Star medal has my absolute respect.
My research has taken me from Plymouth, England to Loch Ewe, Scotland …
And thanks to the Imperial War Museums for their amazing audio archive of naval testimonies and for giving me access to HMS Belfast.
Writing Arctic Star
The book’s main characters – Frank, Joseph and Stephen – start out on a fictional flower-class corvette on the first and second convoys and then finish up on HMS Belfast in the third convoy.
I chose to set Arctic Star partly as an amalgamation of different ships’ experiences and then as a very accurate portrayal of HMS Belfast in the Battle of North Cape so that children could fully comprehend how dangerous it was aboard the Arctic Convoys.
If you want to be the first to know more about Arctic Star and get a first chapter, please use the form below. Please be patient. Our replies are not automated so you will get a personal reply.
HMS Belfast here.
The Arctic Convoys here.
The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum here.
The Royal Navy Research Archive here.
“With his new tale of bravery in the sea battles of World War Two Tom has produced something very special.” Letterpress Project
“I’ve read almost all of Tom Palmer’s Barrington Stoke titles and thoroughly enjoyed them all, so it was no surprise that I thought this was another compelling, moving story about the Second World War. This time, it is the story of three young Naval officers (Frank, Stephen and Joseph) who are part of the Artic Convoy, ships who transport goods to Russia and then back on a horrific journey, which not everyone makes it through alive. Frank is a very sympathetic narrator, and I found Joseph an interesting character, but Stephen was undoubtedly my favourite, given his dark sense of humour. I also liked how much this delved into the politics of this era and so many different facets of how tumultuous and dangerous it was. I also really liked learning more about the Navy, and some of the action scenes were heartstoppingly tense. I very definitely started crying at a few points during this, but it has a hopeful tone overall, and it was fascinating to learn about a part of history I had shamefully been oblivious to previously.” goldenbooksgirl.wordpress.com/2021/05/04/reviews-to-infinity-and-beyond/
“I totally loved this book. The vivid imagery, descriptive conditions, and peril capture your interest from the start…Young people will learn about the Royal Navy, the ships, the people on board and their lives, as well as communism and about the war in general with feelings of duty, pride, and patriotism. Deeper themes are present with death, grief, regret, and survivor guilt. These themes are addressed in an age-appropriate way so that we can learn and understand about them, not shying away from what can be a difficult topic for kids.” Katrina Reads
“I adore Tom’s writing especially when he is writing his historical fiction novels and Arctic Star did not disappoint. This book guided me on a journey with so many different emotions and I was heartbroken and scared for the boys who had endured this journey which Winston Churchill called “the worst journey in the world.” I was proud of the boys for their courage and bravery for embarking on this shocking journey and Tom has clearly done his research to really get this harrowing story and the emotions of being a sailor during the Second World War across to the reader.
I don’t want to write too much about the plot as I don’t want to spoil anything for the reader but all I can say is you will love it and want everyone to come home safely, what an endurance the characters embark on, such a gripping story from beginning to end.
This story is full of friendship, bravery, courage and love and I think it is really important to keep these real events alive. Every school library/history department needs to have a copy of this book.
Thank you to Tom for once again writing such a poignant novel which not only educates but helps us to experience what this horrific journey must have been like just through your fabulous words. I had no idea that this mission had ever existed and it is so important that we know more about these events which changed and shaped our world.” https://emmasuffield.wordpress.com/2021/05/03/arctic-star-by-tom-palmer/
“Just finished reading #ARCTICSTAR and am amazed at the bravery of all those who sailed the arctic convoys. With the treacherous conditions you describe, it is a miracle that any of our ships managed to get through. I was gripped from start to finish!” @AgentApostrophe
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