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A Secret Diary of the First World War

Fact-tastic Stories from Scotland's History

Gill Arbuthnott
Darren Gate


Also available as: eBook

Range: Young Kelpies Paperback 144 pages 40 b/w illustrations 197 x 158 mm ISBN: 9781782505273 Publication date: 26th July 2018

"I'm going to war. I can hardly believe it. Yesterday I was delivering rolls and newspapers as usual, and today I've been called up to go to France and fight."

Step into the boots of 14-year-old soldier James Marchbank to find out what the First World War was really like.

Why was rat hunting a popular hobby in the trenches?
How did parachuting pigeons help win the war?
Why would a really good friend rub whale oil on your feet?
What did it really feel like to be a teenager at war?

Take a journey through time and discover all the most important and incredible bits of the First World War.

Inspired by the real-life diary of a Scottish boy soldier.


'A Secret Diary of the First World War is inspired by an actual account of a teenager who fought on the Western Front. Gill Arbuthnott has used his story to make the Great War more accessible to younger readers... He kept a diary and Gill has used it as the basis for her book which also includes blocks of explanation to help modern readers. The book is illustrated by Darren Gate in a very engaging style. I'm very glad to have this book and I'll certainly add it to my collection... this is a book that deserves to be read.'
-- Jane Sandell, Young People's Librarian at Moray Council

Secret Diary of the First World War


Gill Arbuthnott is the author of numerous fiction, non-fiction and picture books for children and young adults and has been nominated for a number of major UK book awards. A former biology teacher, Gill has written many non-fiction books to engage children with science. Her…

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Darren Gate is the 2016 winner of the Kelpies Design and Illustration Prize. He is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Glasgow.

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