Arctic Star

Cover: Tom Clohosy Cole

Winter 1943. Teenagers Frank,  Joseph and Stephen are Royal Navy recruits on their first mission at sea during the Second World War, on HMS Belfast 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?

ISBN: 1-78112-971-1  Published by Barrington Stoke 6 May 2021.  Read Chapter 1

Buy the Book : WHSmith , Amazon or support local bookshops through

Signed and dedicated copies of all my books are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot” here.

Available worldwide free delivery from Book Depository

“You captured the essence of the Arctic Convoy and are to be commended for exposing it to the younger generation.”  Captain Rolfe Monteith RCN, Arctic Convoy sailor

“One of the best children’s books about WW2”  The School Run 

“Another winner from @tompalmerauthor and @BarringtonStoke. And – wow! – that final battle had me on the edge of my seat.”  @DanSmithAuthor

“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 

Check out our gallery of school responses to Arctic Star here.

History Special: WWII Arctic Star 80th Anniversary

Catch up now on the special film to commemorate & discover the 80th Anniversary of the WWII naval Battle of North Cape with Mr Dilly (you just need to register with name and email and then click play!)

Christmas Resources:

Read chapter 19, Christmas Day on the Arctic Ocean, 1943 as a pdf here or use the flip book below :


Christmas Blackout Poem Challenge here

Includes a how to guide, suggested extracts featuring the King’s speech on Christmas Day,  examples and a signed certificate.



Film  of Tom reading Chapter 19 on board HMS Belfast this Christmas

Awards Latest

Arctic Star is currently shortlisted for the Trinity Schools Book Award (TSBA) 2024.

Arctic Star won @booksfortopics  Upper KS2 Best Curriculum Support award and has been chosen by LoveReading as a 2021 Star Book and has been chosen by Toppsta in their big Summer Reading Feature.

Arctic Star was also …

  • shortlisted for the Historical Association 2022 Young Quills award
  • nominated for the CILIP Carnegie 2022 Medal
  • longlisted for the Spark! School Book Awards
  • longlisted for the Dudley Children’s Book  2021 Award
  • longlisted for the Berkshire Book Award 2022. 
  • shortlisted for the 2022 Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award

“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

Introductory film

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”.

Read Chapter 1 here.

“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

Settings : HMS Belfast

Thanks for sharing this photo from your visit!

The book’s main characters – Frank, Joseph and Stephen – join the Royal Navy in the Second World War – starting out on a fictional flower-class corvette on the first and second Arctic Convoys, which I called HMS Forget-me-Not. Their fictional ship is based on real sailor’s experiences on the Arctic convoys sailing to Russia to deliver supplies to the Soviets.

The sailors finish up on the real HMS Belfast in the third convoy.

“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


Book Trailer here

Read Chapter 1 here.

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.


Blackout Poem Challenge here.
with an optional  signed certificate if used to mark Armed Forces Day Saturday 26 June 2021.


Remembrance film, the Arctic Memorial, Liverpool Parish Church.

Christmas Resources:

Read chapter 19, Christmas Day on the Arctic Ocean, 1943 as a pdf here or use the flip book below :


Christmas Blackout Poem Challenge here

Includes a how to guide, suggested extracts featuring the King’s speech on Christmas Day,  examples and a signed certificate.



Film  of Tom reading Chapter 19 on board HMS Belfast this Christmas

Y6 Unseen text questions set and kindly shared by @TJGriffiths based on chapter 1 here  #MorningTom
Y5/Y6 lesson with a focus on inference
kindly shared by @MrB_Y3 here

Poster packs

If you would like a special Arctic Star poster and bookmark pack  please fill in the order form below:

[contact-form to=”” subject=”Arctic Star poster requests via Tom Palmer’s website”][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Please send me …” type=”checkbox-multiple” options=”a free Arctic Star poster pack”][contact-field label=”Your School / Work Address (necessary for above)” type=”textarea”][/contact-form]

“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

Researching Arctic Star

Having written books about the Army  (Over the Line, Armistice Runner and The Last Try) and RAF (Flyboy, Spitfire, Typhoon and Rugby Academy), I was keen to write a naval novel.

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.

Writing Arctic Star
An article for Aspects of History download here


Useful Links

HMS Belfast here.

The Arctic Convoys here.

The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum here.

The Royal Navy Research Archive here. 



“Absolutely loved the exciting action on the navy ship in this story felt like you were really there” @melissacreate15

“Arctic Star is my new favourite. An untold story”  Primary History Matters @HistoryPrimary

“With his new tale of bravery in the sea battles of World War Two Tom has produced something very special.” Letterpress Project

“@tompalmerauthor has tackled a subject of unimaginable loss, endurance and bravery and succeeded in writing a book that deserves a place in every single school classroom and library.” A Library Lady 


“FINISHED:  @tompalmerauthor hits the nail on the head again. This is incredible: a story of bravery, friendship and Naval arctic travel. This made me cry twice. The friendship between the boys, the sense of duty and the very real emotions of being a sailor. Just exceptional.” @eenalol

“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.”

“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.”

“Arctic Star is the new addictive, fascinating book from Tom Palmer, who is certainly showing what a master author he is with WW2 based stories. His level of research is meticulous and the information at the end of the story makes it even more powerful.”
“Reminded me of wartime comics I read as a child. Totally absorbed by a journey I knew little about but now want to find out so much more. Absolutely loved this story of friendship, the complexities of war and its impact on so many. Superb. Again.”  @KarlDuke8

“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

“Another @tompalmerauthor  triumph, it is totally absorbing and I had to read it one sitting.”  @bluewithstars

For more about what I am currently up to, follow my tweets or tweet me @tompalmerauthor 

Sign up here for my newsletter for readers, teachers and librarians with exclusive extracts from forthcoming books, new resources, etc.

More about all my other books for children here

Buy Books

Signed and dedicated copies of all my books are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot” here. 

With an extra special Christmas or birthday card from me on request!

Overseas :
Australia: Boomerang

Canada: Amazon Canada
New Zealand: Wheelers

USA :  Indigo books

Visit myAmazon bookshop or support your local bookshop HIVE



Schools bumper 33 book pack
offer here

33 books
£194 saving £63 – over 25% discount

Please email


Schools class set offer here.

15 copies 20%+ discount
30 copies 25%+ discount
100 copies 30% + discount


Please email for a quote



Email me here for more information or use my contact form here to ask me a question.

Thank you.


PRIVACY & COOKIES POLICY                            TERMS & CONDITIONS