My children’s book White Fear tackles environmental fiction and activism through fiction.
Lily, Lesh, Hatty, Adnan and Kester are the Squad. They have been summoned to the deadly and frozen land of the Arctic Circle by the British Prime Minister who has heard of their growing reputation as brilliant young spies. An unknown criminal is trying to hijack a world conference about the precious and much fought-over fuels that lie below the arctic ice. To prevent an international war breaking out, Lily, Lesh, Hatty, Adnan and Kester go undercover to find out who it is and stop them.
But the beauty of the icy mountains and deep fjords hide some dangerous secrets and someone will do anything to make sure that the Squad don’t discover them . . .
White Fear was inspired by reports I read in newspapers about how quickly the Arctic ice is melting – and the numerous predicted catastrophes :
the seas will rise
rare wildlife will die out
communities that live in the Arctic will lose their way of life
without the ice in place, the seabed is accessible and some countries will begin to drill for oil, gas and other valuable resources – AND that they will start to jostle for who owns which part of the sea bed.
White Fear draws mostly on the last two threats.
It is set at a fictional conference of the Arctic Powers (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and USA) in Tromso, Norway. These countries are trying, in a last chance to avoid war, to decide who owns which part of the seabed. But evil forces are at large. Forces that profit from war and oil exploitation. Forces that don’t want peace.
The only way to avert war is for The Squad – five British child spies – to infiltrate the conference and stop the evil-doers. It involves mountain-top anxiety, abseiling, chases on ocean liners and even a submarine.
It also involves an ecological protest group made up of Inuit people – called White Fear – that is trying to make the Arctic Powers see sense and help reverse the ice melt.
Sadly, recent events have re-highlighted the problems the Arctic faces.
The Arctic ice is now at its smallest and thinnest since records began. The melt is accelerating year on year, meaning that some Arctic Powers are already exploring, looking for oil and gas and minerals. Not so long ago the Russians placed a Russian flag on the seabed, appearing to claim it for themselves.
Only very recently Greenpeace has been trying to prevent Russian drilling ships from searching for oil beneath that newly-exposed seabed, facing a very aggressive response from the Russians.
When I researched White Fear, I was on board a Norwegian ship, looking at the waters and land that the Arctic Powers are fighting over.
I hope this book does something to raise awareness in children about something that is vital to the future of our planet.
Daily update on the Arctic ice visit http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
Themes in White Fear – 2 a character in a wheelchair
“Children’s fiction has a huge lack of disabled characters, which means many children find they do not have characters that they can relate to in the books they read.”Phoebe Kirk
It was really important to me to make a spy series believable and to stress the extreme risks the members of a child spy team would take. Sadly, this meant from the outset – in Chapter 1 of Black Op – a character is killed in the field. And in the sequel, White Fear, a character called Lesh has a terrible fall, but survives to stay on the Squad. It was really important to me to demonstrate what an important contribution he continues to add to the team as a boy in a wheelchair. My dad spent a long time in a wheelchair, so it is something I’ve spent time thinking about.
Discover other children’s books with characters who have a disability suggested by Scope here and here and here .
Real Reader Reviews
‘Hi Tom your book called The Squad White Fear is great I love the way you made Lily like jump off the cliff to get to a cable car, when you made Frank Hawk hunt Kester and Lily it was cool and when Frank tricks them into thinking the detonator that was a scary part of the book. Is Tromso a real place? My name is Scott and… I LOVE YOUR BOOKS! ‘ Scott, Ysgol Esgob Morgan
“Tom Palmer books are usually extremely popular with my pupils at school, and this one will be no exception. It is the second book in the series ‘The Squad’, following the adventures of a group of teenage spies. They manage to stay undercover by being part of an elite youth football team that travel the world playing in matches and tournaments.
The book has sets off at a great pace and wastes little time in getting to the action. It is extremely current, as the group are involved in an adventure based around drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean. The characters of the children are varied enough to be interesting, and the main adult in the story is an archetypal evil genius (of sorts)…
Highly recommended. I have found Tom’s previous books to be a perfect way in to reading for some of my more disengaged pupils, due to the links with sport and simple-to-read, fast paced style of the books. White Fear will continue that trend.” Jonnybid
“What a great book! I am looking forward to White Fear and can’t wait.” Saad Siddiqui
I hope my children’s book “After the War – from Auschwitz to Ambleside” and these FREE virtual, streamable and downloadable resources will help schools, libraries and families mark Holocaust Memorial Day – Thursday 27 January 2022.
We will be offering a range of materials and agreed partners already include The National Literacy Trust , The Anne Frank Trust and The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre.
Plans already include :
“Them” – a NEW FREE 5 part read aloud story written specially for Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 by Tom Palmer – suggested 1 chapter a day that week
5 short films and worksheets to support “Them” story and inspire pupils to write their own responses
A teacher guide with ideas and sources to support your delivery of “Them” and children’s writing
“Why testimony should be at the heart of any Holocaust story” a blog for The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre. (Link to come here …)
As more plans are developed with partners to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 we will add them on to this webpage. To get reminders of when these and more resources become available please sign up here:
Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. More here.
In 2021, I was very proud to work with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, UCL Centre for Holocaust Education and the National Literacy Trust to produce a range of resources for schools – see here.
“After the War” is suitable as a class read for children in Y6 and above.
For the past few years I have asked teachers, TAs and librarians if they would be kind enough to nominate a child they think would benefit from the gift of a book for Christmas. My family and I would like to do the same for Christmas 2021.
Our idea is to work with schools and libraries to help us gift books to fifty children who have had a difficult year at school or home in the hope that a book would be a boost for them; to children who do not have any books at home; or to children for who one special book might help engage them with a lifetime of reading for pleasure.
Each book will be personally dedicated, signed, gift-wrapped and will come with a Christmas card from me. Those nominating can choose from any of my books for children.
The Christmas card will have this year’s illustration by the wonderful Yorkshire artist James Innerdale.
If you’d like to nominate a child, please email the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday 21st November2021:
the child’s name (this will not be published and will be kept in full confidence)
a short paragraph explaining why you are nominating that child (this will not be published and will be kept in full confidence)
This year’s Remembrance Sunday will be marked on 14th November, with Remembrance Day three days earlier on Thursday 11th November 2021.
To help schools mark the occasion and link it to developing literacy in the classroom, I am offering these FREE resources for schools to use based around my books.
Please use this assembly film for KS2 and KS3 made at the Arctic Memorial, Liverpool Parish Church. It is for use in the hall or for schools to stream throughout classrooms. I talk about the real First and Second World War soldiers, airmen and women and sailors that have inspired the characters in my books. https://youtu.be/DL35oK6en_w
Please use this signed certificate to present to pupils for any work relating to Remembrance Day download here
ReadHis Name is Ben – a short story for children by Tom Palmer illustrated by James Innerdale – about Sir Ben Helfgott, one of The Boys who came to Loughton and went on to become an Olympic weightlifter.
Tom Palmer is the author of “After the War – from Auschwitz to Ambleside” about the 300 Windermere Children, who came from Auschwitz to Ambleside over 75 years ago. More here.
Find out more about what happened next to the Holocaust Survivors at a new Epping Forest District Museum exhibition here .
“After the War”, published by Barrington Stoke was researched with the Lake District Holocaust Project and written with Grasmere school. It’s about the three hundred child concentration camp survivors who came to the Lake District nearly 75 years ago (who were known as the Windermere Boys). More here.
“It is a story from the past, told in the present, with lessons for us all for the future.” Trevor Avery
“A powerful and moving novel, following meticulous research and with the support of the Lake District Holocaust Project” Jewish News
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