Valentine Joe
Rebecca Stevens




Rose's granddad takes her on a trip to Ypres, Belgium to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War. It's the day before Valentine's, but Rose can sense the shattered old city beneath the chocolate-box new. And it seems that it can sense her too. When she goes up to her room that night, she hears the sound of marching feet and glimpses from her window a young soldier on his way to the front line.

"This book packs a powerful emotional punch in just 150 pages as it combines grief, love and the reality of the trenches... This is a beautifully written story." Sally Morris, Daily Mail

"A thought-provoking, original and deeply moving story which brings the war vividly to life." Julia Eccleshare
Aimee, from Wren Academy Barnet

I really loved the book Valentine Joe because it is such a touching and bittersweet book based upon the events of WW1; about an existing soldier, coincidentally one of the youngest, called Valentine Joe.

The book itself is about teenager Rose as she visits Ypres with her granddad to visit a relative’s grave, although something isn't quite right and strange things start occurring around her. Rose finds herself, as a visitor, watching the past as it unfolds as seemingly no one can see her; all except for Valentine Joe.

I would recommend reading this book because it is truly brilliant and just plain fantastic.

Alex, from Jewish Community Secondary School

A story of time travel, love, despair and hope set around World War One.

This intricately detailed story is about Rose, whose father has died. When she visits Ypres with her grandfather, she discovers the grave of Joe, a 15-year-old boy who died during WW1. So begins an exciting adventure involving time-travel and love. This interesting story leaves the reader uncertain as to whether this is a dream or reality.

I really enjoyed this book since it had a superb plot along with well drawn characters. The author gave an abstract impression of Joe. This left room for imagination. The author left a far more detailed description of Grandpa and Rose.

Amelia, from Wren Academy Barnet

Valentine Joe is a stunning tale of loss, pain and love. This fast paced novel will have the power to ask questions into the mind of any reader. A thought provoking book to be loved and cherished.

Rose just wants to be normal. But when she loses her dad her life becomes one of solitude. She spends all of her time trying to live in the past with her dad. But when the past comes to her, in the shape of the First World War, Rose is forced to realise that you can’t spend your life looking back.

Rose’s life seems to be in a bubble. She finds even talking and being with people a difficulty. So when she is invited to a Valentine’s day party she finds the idea of visiting the small town of Ypres with her Grandad a much more appealing proposition. Her grandfather’s uncle, George, was killed in the Great War and was buried at Essex Farm. Rose’s great grandfather had always wanted to visit him so Grandad and Rose went instead. While there, Rose spots the grave of a young soldier named Valentine Joe. Soon she starts to notice some strange things. Like people disappearing from photos, whole photographs vanishing from camera memory and singing coming from rooms that do not exist. That night, suddenly, Rose finds herself flung into the depths of the past, into the old town of Ypres, into the time of the First World War, where her only comrade is a small dog who seems to be in every time she visits. This dog is also seen by every one in every time, whereas often Rose appears to be nothing more than a shadow in the dark. While she is in the past, she meets the boy whose grave she has seen. The spritely character of Valentine Joe sparks hope into her once grey life. She wants to tell him. To warn him of what is to come. But will he listen? Will he even believe her?

Through her adventure Rose starts to understand that you can’t change the past.

The past is to be remembered, not lived in.

Amira, from Wren Academy Barnet

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens is about a fourteen-year-old girl called Rose who travels to the mysterious town of Ypres, Belgium to visit the grave of a relative who died during the Great War. After coming across the grave of a soldier who was killed during the war when he was just fifteen, Rose finds herself transported back in time one hundred years, and comes face to face with the very same soldier: Valentine Joe…

I don’t usually enjoy books set in WW1, but I loved this book! The writing was very gripping (I read the book in one sitting!) and I found it very interesting reading about Ypres and learning about its history and the part it played in the Great War. I really  liked all the characters, especially Joe, and found the interactions between him and Rose very entertaining.  

The only criticism I have with this book is that I wish that the relationship between Rose and Joe was developed more, and that we could have seen more of them together. Also, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed; in my opinion I think that the book needed an extra fifty to one hundred pages to wrap up the story better.  

The story is bittersweet but lovely all the same, it is the sort of book that you want to go back and reread as soon as you have finished it! Overall, I really enjoyed Valentine Joe and would definitely recommend it! 

Angelo, from St James Catholic High School

Valentine Joe is a lovely novel. It is about a girl, Rose, who visits her uncle’s grave. While there she gets pulled back to the past and meets 15-year-old valentine Joe… During the story she learns about the sacrifice the soldiers made and why some of them wanted to die because they could not face life without their friends.

The novel is very emotional and sad. I recommend it to people who want to really feel a strong emotion.

Aran, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens is a book about Rose, who took a trip to Belgium with her grandfather to visit graves of the lost from World War One. On her visit, she saw the grave of the young Valentine Joe, who was only 15 when he was killed. From that moment on, nothing was as it seemed, and Rose became stuck between the present and the past.

Something the book really could have done with was characters who I could relate to. To me, it didn’t seem like much thought was put into the characters of this novel and their backgrounds were not described very well. This gave them less of a personality and meant that when exciting, tragic or moving events occurred I didn’t really care as much as I have when reading other novels. For example, aside from Rose texting her late father, she doesn’t really show many signs of being hurt or missing him. Through this lack of emotion and personality (from other characters too) the plot as a whole became less interesting.

Although this book had many improvements to be made, there were positives. I thought that there was a fair amount of suspense, created when Rose went back into the present. This left me wondering what would happen next to Joe, which is one thing that kept me reading this book. It did this by leaving the story frozen on a cliff-hanger while the events in the present continued.

Avani, from Wren Academy Barnet

Valentine Joe, by Rebecca Stevens, had a long build up towards the part of the book where the protagonist starts to feel a presence of the young soldier. This is due to the constant mentioning of her late father and how she texted him as it dragged the story on so I felt that it was unnecessary. 

I found the plot, depicted in the blurb, interesting before I read the book but the story didn’t seem to match with my thoughts about how it was going to be.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend the book because it didn’t seem to intrigue me or make me want to read more. 

Ben, from University College School London

Valentine Joe, by Rebecca Stevens, is about a girl called Rose, whose father had died the previous year. She agrees to go to Ypres in Belgium with her grandfather to visit the graves of soldiers who died in the Great War, even though she then misses a Valentines Day party. While she is looking at the graves, she sees the name of one boy that stays in her mind, Valentine Joe, who was just 15 years old when he was killed. Later that night, she wakes up to marching, and when she looks out of the window, she sees a young soldier waving at her…

I thought that Valentine Joe was a very good book when you got to the exciting part, but that was only about the last 20-30 pages. I thought there was a severe lack of description in the book, and I was constantly turning back through the pages to try and find out where I was. Apart from that I thought the book was quite good. My favourite character was Joe. This was because I liked his relaxed, laid-back attitude and the way he goes back to the front to fight for his friends, who were killed.

I thought that Rose was not given enough description, just like her grandfather and Muriel (the hotel receptionist) and just about every character in the book. The book did have a very good plot, and there were some quite moving scenes, but the lack of description really did surprise me.

Overall, I would give Valentine Joe a three out of five. That three would definitely become a four if there had been more description of Rose’s surroundings and the other characters.

Benji, from University College School London

The main plot to the book is about Rose and Brian, her grandad, going to visit a relative's grave in Ypres. But Rose sees a grave of someone called Valentine Joe. She is later woken up at night to see marching soldiers and a young man looking up at her...

My basic thoughts about this book are negative for people who are deciding to read this book or not but I have more in depth thoughts that contain many spoilers:

I found the book very frustrating to read as every single moment felt like it was only there for contrast later. Like how Rose thinks of the lives of other people in the train who she doesn’t know, whereas in the trench she can’t think of a backstory for the dead soldier. Or when Rose talks about her dead dad all the time but at the end doesn’t. Or when she is awkward talking to boys but not awkward when talking to Joe. Almost every single moment in the book can be compared in stark contrast to a later moment. It makes me role my eyes every time I’m reading a moment in contrast to another moment. It breaks my suspension of belief when every moment feels like a writer made it. It makes me feel that scenes are there only for contrast later. 

Another thing that I dislike is how Rose seems to make silly decisions and ideas. For example when she sees the soldiers outside she doesn’t decide to tell Brian but instead decides to run outside. Then it takes her absolutely ages to work out she time travelled. Maybe it’s because I watch a lot of Doctor Who but time travel always stands out to me whenever it happens. Rose clearly has never seen anything related to time travel as she thinks she might be able to save Joe, but she saw his grave. The only reason she was there was because she saw Joe’s grave, Rose even makes this distinction. So if Joe didn’t die then she would have never been there to save him. The whole motive of Rose in the book is to save Joe but she never realizes that this is unlikely as she sees his grave.

Another problem I have is how little is explained about the time travel aspect. For example when Rose first sees Joe he has the same flower that Rose put on his grave. This is to make it clear to the reader that this is Joe. But was it a coincidence that Joe had the same flowers or was it because Rose put it on his grave? If so, how did the flowers appear to him? Did they just appear in his front pocket? If Rose put an iPhone on his grave would he have an iPhone in his front pocket? You could argue that the point of the time travel was for it to be unexplained, but when just about every single element in the book is wrapped in a nice neat bow you would expect the biggest part of the plot would be explained too.

Another problem I had with the book was how the story was told. It is told in a third person perspective which is fine. Many books do this, where the third person knows all. But what confused me is that there is a moment where Stevens draws attention to the fact that the third person has a personality of sorts. In a particular moment the third person says, “she, Rose”. I was very confused as to why this was done as there was only one women in the scene being Rose. It felt like the writer was aware of this and said Rose instead. But instead of taking out ‘she’ the writer says it in a way that the third person is correcting itself like it is talking to you. It added nothing to the story and distracted me from the plot as I had to pause and think for a moment why that was in the book.

Apart from knit-picky type reasons the main reason I do not like the book is that all the characters are cardboard cut outs. Rose is awkward and sad about her dead Dad. Joe is charming, exciting but makes stupid decisions. There is nothing about these characters that makes the reader care about them. You may think that we should care about them because Rose is sad for explained reasons, and Joe makes stupid decisions for explained reasons. But the book breaks the golden rule of “Show don’t tell”. We are only told about the effects of Rose’s dad dying but we are never shown the effects. Admittedly we do see the effects of Joe’s friends dying on Joe. 

What I did like about the book was its description. It always made me feel like I was at the war. For anyone interested what it was like in the war the book is fine but overall the confusing plot and cardboard cut out characters can take you out of the experience because of this I’m giving this book a 3/10.

Charlotte, from Jewish Community Secondary School

I found this book a bit awkward at first but as I got further into the story it became easier to understand and I became fascinated with the story and the intertwined lives of Rose and Valentine.

“He was 15. Old enough to fight. Too young to die.”  ‘He’ was Valentine Joe. Not a fictional character but a real boy. He was killed when he was sent to the front line during the First World War.  She “still felt a bit – alone”.  ‘She’ is Rose, her father was 38 when he died and she is accompanying her Granddad on a journey to Ypres in Belgium to visit his uncles’ war grave.  Here, through Tommy (the adorable time-travelling dog), Rose is transported to WW1 where she meets Valentine Joe Strudwick and feels the intense need to try to prevent his certain death.

This is a tragic yet joyful love story that crosses the boundaries of time: “promise me something Rose, that you’ll go and find it. Your present. If I don’t come back”. It made me angry that such a young boy was allowed to join in the fighting and yet it pulled on my heart-strings too. 

Charlotte, from Wren Academy Barnet

This book was the first I read for the We Read conference 2015 and I really enjoyed it. It was the sort of book where you almost become one with the main character and feel their emotions as you go through the story with them. I read it on Valentine’s Day this year and I know that every year on Valentine’s Day I will think of the story and smile. The story was a great introduction into the WeRead books so I knew my next few weeks’ worth of books would be amazing. The ending was beautifully written and made me wish that I were Rose so I could have her little memento of Joe.

Cydney, from Jewish Community Secondary School

The story line for Valentine Joe was very shocking with many ups and downs in the plot. It bounces from modern day society to back 1914 in the World War 1 battlefields. It’s about a young girl called Rose, who is traveling to Ypres with her grandfather when she uncovers a story about a 15 year old boy named Joe, who died, on Valentine’s Day...!

Rose travelled to Ypres to visit her Grandfather’s uncle’s grave after he died fighting for his country in World War 1. While she was at his grave she noticed a grave buried under a pile of leaves and was intrigued to find out more about this interesting discovery.  

Rebecca Stevens shows how much Rose has come to care for Valentine Joe as she was willing to travel back in time for him. You can see this from one of the phrases Stevens uses in her book; ‘He was just 15. Old enough to fight. Too young to die.’ I feel this is the part of the story which really makes you realise that if you believe in something anything is possible; and in this case all Rose believes in is saving Valentine Joe.

My favourite part of this book is the 13th February, the day before Valentine’s Day and Joe and Rose are sitting in a deserted café and Joe says; ‘Promise me something Rose,that you will go and find it. You’re present. If I don’t come back.’ This sends shivers down my spine and really made me receive the message that Valentine Joe and Rose had a special bond and loved each other with all their hearts. 

Overall I enjoyed this book but it isn’t the best book out of all the WeRead titles. If I had to rate it I would give it a 6.5 out of 10.

Dana, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe is a spine-chilling novel about a girl called Rose who visited a small town in Belgium with her grandfather to pay respects to his uncle who died in WW1, as his father never got to do so. That day, Rose and her grandfather went to the graveyard to respect the loyal soldiers. As Rose was looking, she spotted a gravestone that said "Valentine Joe, age 15." Rose thought this was odd as he was so young, but just went along with it.

That night when Rose went to bed she heard lots of men singing outside her window. She got up and discovered hundreds of soldiers marching across the square singing, as she had heard before. Rose started to get curious, so she decided to investigate. As she got outside, she spotted a young soldier who looked cheeky and mischievous. As she was looking, a sudden, random bomb landed in the square, and she found this boy on top of her! After introducing herself, things took off, and the craziest things start to happen to Rose. Is this boy connected to Valentine Joe? Will Rose be able to go back to her normal, ordinary life? There is only one way to find out... 

I liked Valentine Joe because it was an extremely tense book, and I really did not know what was coming next. This novel is very creepy and hair-raising, and isn't a book I would voluntarily read. It really made me think, and connect with the characters feelings and emotions. I would recommend this book to people who like action stories, age 9 and above.

This book would be suitable for both genders and I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.   

Daniel, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a war romance story with a ghostly element. The book is about a teenager by the name of Rose who lost her father not too long ago. Her granddad and she go to the town of Ypres to visit the grave of uncle George who died in the war. Rose feels that there is something wrong and weird in the town. Mysterious things start to happen, like a wall appearing out of nowhere to block her and trap her. She soon realises that she is alternating from different time periods, for one moment she is in the present the next in the past. One night she hears men marching outside the hotel and sees a bunch of soldiers marching. One man looks up and sees Rose, the boy’s name is Joe. Rose meets Joe again as he saves her life from a bomb blast. They immediately click; normally Rose is shy around boys but she isn’t with Joe. They hang out with each other for a bit until Joe is called to the front line. Rose tries to come after him because he forgot something but when she runs after she sees the world has changed again and they are in the future (the future from the past).

At first I fought this book would be a waste of my time, but I was wrong this book is enjoyable and a very interesting read which I think lots of people will like. I must say that I don’t think this book is for everyone, I can see some might find it is boring but I would only say that for a few people. To read this you do need concentration. I found that this book is slow to begin with but it starts to big up a bit later on. Overall I thought this book was good and fun to read. I would recommend it to most people but some might not like it.

I would give this book 8.5/10. I feel like it tried to be funny at some stages but it didn’t work. But the romance, the war aspect and the slight ghostly element worked very well.

Debbie, from Wren Academy Barnet

Rose – nicknamed Cabbage - goes to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War with her Grandpa Brian. What sticks out is the grave of a 15-year-old boy, who fought in the war and died one month before his birthday, which is Valentine’s Day. This boy’s name is Valentine Joe. But things seemed different when Rose woke up the next morning.

I think this is such a good short story, and the fact that it is based on true events makes it much more captivating. At first I thought this book would be based on romance, but what made me really enjoy this book was the idea/concept of Rose ‘teleporting’ in the different times of Joe’s times before he steps up the ladder in the trench to his death. It sped up the whole story, which also showed that Joe’s time was going too quickly, much too quickly. 

Rose was confused as to what was happening, and Stevens wasn’t giving the reader any hints, so it made me feel confused too and consequently made me more intrigued in the book and was unable to put the book down. However, Stevens could have used a hook at the beginning to grab the readers’ attention!

I also appreciate how Rebecca Stevens wrote an afterword of how the idea of the story Valentine Joe began. It made me like the book more interesting because I knew there was a person called Valentine Joe and all the description of him was true. His birthday on Valentine’s Day, went to war with his two best friends, died one month before his 16th birthday… 14th January 1916. It honestly made me feel it is cool how this actually happened and made the history of the Great War more fascinating. I don’t know if this was intended or coincidence but there are 15 chapters in the book and that was V.J. Strudwick’s age!

I recommend this to anyone who would like romance, history and… teleporting.

Ella, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

This book has elements of both a ghost story and a good mystery.

Valentine Joe is about a girl called Rose who lost her Dad about a year before, and is left with a sad and silent mother. She journeys from St.Pancras International to Ypres in Belgium with her grandfather and looks at the war graves. But one grave sticks in her memory, that of a 15-year-old boy.

The same night when she returns to the village she hears the marching of soldiers and sees a young soldier outside her window. I enjoyed the mysterious quality of the book.

Emma, from Jewish Community Secondary School

I enjoyed Valentine Joe because it was sudden and surprising the whole way through. I was unable to guess what was going to happen next.

This story starts in the modern day but takes a trip back to the past. Fifteen-year-old Rose is suffering after her father’s death, she texts him all the time, even though she knows she won’t get a reply.  Rose visits Belgium with her grandfather, to see his uncle’s grave. He had been killed in the First World War. Late that night when Rose looks out of her hotel window, she sees the ghosts of the past and one boy catches her eye. What she experiences and sees in Belgium, helps Rose to move on and let her father go.

My favourite part of this book is when Rose takes a picture of the square and all the modern things disappear. I like this part because it is the turning point in the story, you can tell that something exciting is going to happen next. This book is a very good read.

Freddie, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a book about a girl called Rose who is going to Ypres (Eepra) to look at a cemetery. She then finds that the city is strange. She hears voices, singing, a strange picture on her phone, and a dog that follows her around. When they go to the cemetery she sees a strange grave, Valentine Joe, 15. She is horrified, a 15-year-old killed in the war. That night things become even stranger.

She wakes up to  a loud bang, then some singing. She goes outside her room and sees stairs going upstairs, but she was on the top floor! She then sees rows of soldiers marching, and one looks up, a young boy. She rushes outside and, with another bang, something explodes behind her. However, she is saved, saved by the young boy she saw earlier.

"What are you doing outside during a raid." "A raid?" "Of course, there's a war going on." She later finds out that she must have gone back in time, (though she didn't tell him this) and that the boy's name was Joe. She eats a bit with him, and then returns to bed. She wakes up, and the world has changed again.

She finds he has gone forward a few months in time since she slept, and that no-one can see her except Joe, and the dog (who she and Joe now call Tommy). That's when the story really begins. She goes forward a few months every time she sleeps, and when she wakes up she has to find out what has happened. Joe's friends die. Will he too? Somehow she must warn him he will die if he keeps on fighting.

In my opinion, this is an ok book, but it is extremely confusing. It is hard to pick up on what has happened every time she time-travels, and where she is. This is a journey of a small girl traveling through time, and learning what it was like in the war. I could compare this book to a book called Charlotte Sometimes which also about time-travel and war (I also think Charlotte Sometimes is a better book). I would recommend this book to young readers and rate it 3.5 stars.

Guy, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is an outstanding book about a young girl called Rose or "Cabbage", as her grandfather calls her. Rose is just fifteen. She goes to Ypres in Belgium with her grandfather to visit her great-great uncle's grave, he died in 1915 fighting the Germans. She and her grandfather are going on behalf of her great-grandfather. 

Rose has recently lost her father and is very upset about it. She is grieving so much that she carries on texting him, but she keeps it a secret from everyone. She was very connected to her dad as you can see. She and grandfather are going to Ypres, the city in Belgium which her great great uncle was buried in. The main reason that Rose agreed to go with her grandfather, was because after her father's death her grandfather put in a huge effort to attempt to fill in the gap. This has gained him a lot of respect in her eyes. 

Valentine Joe is about Rose and her grandfather's trip to Ypres to visit her great grandfathers brother, George, who died in The Great War. They are going on behalf of her great grandfather who always wanted to go to visit his brother's grave after war but he never got to it.

When she gets to Belgium odd things start to happen. She meets a young soldier called Joe, he is fifteen (very close to her own age) and he was born on Valentines Day. Valentine Joe, as he is known, falls in love with Rose. She then goes on a crazy time travelling adventure skipping between one dimension based in the Great War and back to the present. All of her adventures, which involve trying to save Joe involve a stray dog she calls "Tommy".I personally love this book because it is unlike any book I have ever read. It is about Great War, yet at  the same time it is based in the present, the main character being Rose a young child on a trip to Essex Farm cemetery. I also like this book because I am not a big fan of Great War book genre, yet  this gives you the taste of The Great War but is not entirely set in it.


Hala, from Copthall School, Barnet

Valentine Joe is written by Rebecca Stevens. The story is about a girl called Rose, whose father has passed away.  She lives with her mother and her grandfather. Her grandfather takes her to Ypres, Belgium, to visit the grave of his uncle who had fought in the war. Rose sees a grave with the name Valentine Joe and she has a strange dream.

The story is set in Ypres during the 20th century during the First World War. Some parts are also set during modern times. The story is written in first person. I think one of the most interesting characters is Valentine Joe because he is quite cheeky and his character makes the book more adventurous and he just appears at times. I think another interesting character is the protagonist, Rose. She has many different thoughts in her mind and she is a very determined character. I think one of the most interesting parts is when Rose enters her dream. It is mysterious and exciting. I also thought that the part when she meets Joe is quite interesting and when they have dinner together in a small café.

Overall I recommend everybody to read this book. It has its ups and downs but I really enjoyed it.

Hannah, from Wren Academy Barnet

Valentine Joe is an amazing novel by Rebecca Stevens. It is based on partly true story and is set in a real place – Ypres, Belgium. It is about a young girl called Rose who visits Ypres with her Grandad because his uncle - George - died in World War One and they go to visit his grave. It is written in the third person and throughout the book it travels back in time to tell the story of a real life 15-year-old boy called Valentine. 

While Rose and her Grandad were at the cemetery looking for George’s grave, they stumbled across a grave engraved with the words ‘V.J Strudwick, The Rifle Bridge, 14 January 1916, Aged 15'. These few words, and their meaning, stuck in Rose’s mind like glue. She couldn’t stop thinking about him or the adorable dog that she had met earlier.

The main plot of the story is based during the time of World War One. It all starts on the night before Valentine’s Day when Rose sees a group of soldiers marching through the street. One of them catches her looking at him through her window, and that soldier is Valentine Joe (or just Joe). Later that night, Joe saves her from a ‘whizz-bang’ and then they go out to eat but she has to follow him back to his army base to give him back his lucky sixpence, but before she has the chance to, the time has changed again and now, the boys were just told that they will be heading off to the ‘Front’. She tried to talk to his friends; but they don’t see her, not many do, only Joe, Tommy (the dog), and some children. 

The next time Joe and Rose meet, is weeks after they first did and this time he is leaving to fight in the Front. There is another time change before they come into contact once more and by now Joe is a gas casualty and is lucky to be alive. He is going to be sent home and has been advised to stay put once he gets there but he does not. This is because while he was out fighting, both his best friends died and he wants to go back and fight for them. While he is doing this, he is killed on 14th January just like Rose saw on the gravestone. She comes back to real time just by waking up; however she still has the coat that she wore, and mud on her boots. 

I think that this book taught me about pain. Rose was still upset about her father dying and she wanted to be back in the past with him, so when she was in a country with such an important past and saw how so many people died because of that past and how some were so young, I think that she made up a story about one of those people to try and help herself get over her dad’s death. 

The main characters are Rose, who is fourteen years old, and her grandfather Brian. Also there is Joe, a fifteen-year-old boy who fought in the war, who Rose met in a dream, and her dog Tommy, who was also in the dream with her but, is real and is taken home by Rose at the end of the book.

I really enjoyed reading Valentine Joe and I thought that the story was really touching and emotional. It taught me about the past, of Belgium and especially World War One as I don’t really know much about it. I would definitely read other books by this author and I would rate it a 9/10 because it was really gripping and I couldn’t stop reading!

Harleigh, from Wren Academy Barnet

I liked this book because as the story develops the readers want to know more about the main characters Rose, and Valentine Joe, a soldier in World War 1 at just fifteen years old. I also like this book because we find out information at the same time as Rose. In the end Rose finds out that just because the person you love is gone doesn’t mean that you have to stop loving that person. I would recommend this book to everyone willing to read.

Helaina, from East Barnet School

I loved this book; in only 154 pages Rebecca Stevens manages to create a perfect war story which involves heartbreak and hope but is still realistic. The characters are very well created- Rose seems like you average 21st-century girl, who is shocked at the horrific setting of the trenches. Joe also seems very realistic, a brave boy willing to join the army even though he is too young. The characters learn a lot together but mostly they help each other with what’s going on in their lives.


This book makes me feel like I am in the pages and that I can see what Rosa sees. This book is extremely enticing and brought the past back alive with its vivid detail and description. Not only is this book gripping and fast paced it also has a deeper meaning to it.

Jacob, from University College School London

I really enjoyed reading Valentine Joe By Rebecca Stevens. It is a very interesting book based on World War 1 and life after. It is a very quick read and a short book but I could not put the book down. It is a book that is quite sad at times but a very enjoyable read.

In Valentine Joe By Rebecca Stevens there is a girl called Rose who goes, with her Granddad, to a place called Ypres (It’s other names are Ipres and "Wipers") to visit Rose’s great-granddad who died in World War 1. They go to the gravestone and put flowers on it but there was one name on a grave that stuck out in Rose’s mind, Valentine Joe, who was born on the 14th February. Suddenly everything starts becoming weird. A picture has objects missing; a dog keeps on following them round and Rose keeps on having dreams and visions of soldiers. The book is a bit confusing as I was not very sure if she had visions, dreams or if it was in real life but there is a very good and exciting plot in this book with cliff hangers at the end of each chapter.

In Valentine Joe Rose is the main character in the book and her Granddad goes to Ypres with her. Rose’s Mum stays at home during the trip and her Dad died which makes Rose very sad. Grace and Ella are Rose’s two best friends. Valentine Joe who was born on the 14th February. Tonk and Fred were Valentine Joe’s best friends. Friederich is a boy who is also in Ypres and becomes friends with Rose and Tommy is the name given to the dog who follows Rose and her Granddad around everywhere.

Valentine Joe By Rebecca Stevens is a very good book and a very quick read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes short War stories and that are 11 +. I really enjoyed reading the book but did not quite understand if Rose was having dreams or not. Overall it is a great book. 9/10 stars.


Jacob, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe is a book by Rebecca Stevens, it is set in Ypres and is about a 14-year-old girl called Rose who goes to Ypres with her grandfather to see her great-grandfather’s grave from the First World War. But at the graveyard she sees the grave of a fifteen-year-old boy whose name is Valentine Joe, hence the name of the book, she is shocked that anyone so young could die as a solider in the war and grieves for him. As her stay lengthens she gets sucked into the past where she meets Valentine Joe in the wartime. Can she stop Valentine Joe from dying?

I like this book because it was very intense at times and had the air of tension; it also was very interesting because it told you more about the war. This is a book about war, love and support.

Jake, from University College School London

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens, is a war themed book. The main storyline follows the protagonist, Rose, when she takes a weekend trip to Belgium with her granddad, to see her relative’s grave who died in the war. However, when in the graveyard, one name catches her eye, Valentine Joe. And the same night, Rose hears the marching of the soldiers outside her bedroom door, and soon finds herself back, trapped in the catastrophic events that were in World War One.  

As this book is war based, an expected genre to associate the book with would be a tragedy, although it is actually primarily based on action and romance, with occasional elements of tragedy. 

The two main characters in the story are Rose, a fifteen-year-old girl who takes a trip to Ypres in Belgium, and the other, Valentine Joe, a young soldier in the war. Rose comes across as a very normal girl, but sends an eccentric vibe out after experiencing weird events in the opening, such as a bus disappearing from a photo she took. This aims to build up to the event where, when she is sleeping, she magically appears in WWI. In my opinion, because of revealing these strange events that happened before, it takes away some of the shock from when she goes back in time and makes it a slight anti-climax. Although it does help the reader understand the book better, otherwise after no reference to magical events, it would be very confusing if she just appeared in WWI. Another character in the story is Rose’s adopted dog, Tommy. When he magically appears in both time zones, the present and the past, it becomes a bit confusing, as there is no explanation or hint towards how he does this. 

The book is primarily set in the Belgian town of Ypres. I find it really interesting how it compares modern Ypres to Ypres 100 years before, and personally think it is very clever how the author uses this setting through the whole book. It gives you a good visual image of how the world changed in the last 100 years.

Overall, I think this book had a well thought out storyline but adding more detail would have made it better. As it is missing so much detail, I cannot say the book is excellent. It is only good. One factor it is missing out on is length. If it described each of the individual events more, it would be longer and easier to follow. However the book does flow well, and I think this is achieved by keeping each chapter concise, meaning the book never feels too heavy. I recommend this book to people who like books that aren’t too complicated. If you are a more advanced reader, or one who prefers description and a book that hooks or absorbs you more, then this is not for you. Overall I rate this book 6.5/10.

Jamie, from Jewish Community Secondary School

This is a story about journeys – the journey into the past and the journey in the present.

The journey about the past is set in World War 1 and the story takes Rose to the trenches to experience the war. The journey about the present is of Rose visiting her dead uncle’s grave with her grandfather. This makes the book really interesting because you get to experience the story in two worlds and times. Rose goes to Belgium to visit her grandfather’s dead uncle who got killed in World War 1. She and her grandfather are on the Eurostar and they are thinking about him and the loss of Rose’s dead father. When they go to the cemetery they also see the grave of a 15-year-old boy (Valentine Joe) who catches Rose’s attention. 

When Rose wakes up the next morning she heard a scrape on her door and she opens the door to see the cute little dog that follows her everywhere and from then on the dog becomes a key part of the story. Then she hears singing from the square (it is from World War 1 soldiers). She looks out the window to spot a small teenager that looks very out of place. It was Valentine Joe. From then on Rose becomes a part of Joe’s past.

If you read this book you will have to be prepared for an amazing adventure that will inspire you to remember World War 1 like the trenches, the horror and those who lied about their age so they could fight for their country. The book draws you in and makes you feel like you’re part of the story.

At some points in the book I felt very sad because of the death of people Rose is close to, like Joe who could have lived but chose to die and her father who died last year. Other parts of the book made me happy because it is a hopeful story and I enjoyed the relationship between Rose and her grandfather.  

The characters feel very real and have all got good qualities like: Rose is very kind and considerate and she looks out for people. Joe is romantic, brave and kind they are very good friends and have the same qualities.

At some points in the book it got a little confusing because of the change in tense and it took time to get into. Also it was very predictable so I could guess what was going to happen. But it taught you a lot about World War 1 so it could be a good book to read in class.

I really enjoyed this book because it is a quick read and would be a great school reading book. I would rate this book 4/5 stars it would be suitable for 10-16 year olds.

Jessica, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe started off set in modern times but, later in the book the time and setting change to World War One. I think this was a very clever idea for the book because as you are reading about Rose’s adventures in World War One you can still remember when she was just a normal girl on a trip to Belgium with her lovely Grandfather. 

This book has a mix of romance, adventure and also gives you an idea of what life was like for a young, underage soldier from World War One.

My favourite part in this book is when Rose goes back to the hole and finds Valentine Joe’s gift for her many years later. I think this scene is very moving. I think this book has a very nice story. 

Joanna, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe is about a girl called Rose who goes to Ypres with her grandpa but all isn’t as it seems. One night Rose looks out her window and sees soldiers in uniform marching… 

It took me a while to get into Valentine Joe. I started to get into it when Rose is sitting in the café with Joe. Rose is changing history in a way, but nothing she did actually affected anything that would have happened when she was there, Joe still would have died. I thought it was quite clever of the author to use an actual person called Valentine Joe in the story. The story ended quite quickly though. I like it in a book when the character does something I would do differently! Overall I enjoyed it would recommend it to a friend and its gender neutral even though the main character is a girl.

Joe, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a book written by Rebecca Stevens about a 14-year-old girl called Rose who comes across the grave of ‘Valentine Joe Strudwick’ who died at the age of 15. Rose ends up going back in time and meeting him and inevitably falling in love with him. I was surprised and horrified to find out that there actually was a person called ‘Valentine Joe Strudwick’ who was a 15-year-old boy who did die in the Great War.

The book has a pretty straightforward plot. What happens is Rose goes to find her great-great uncle Georges’ grave with her Grandpa. When she is at the graveyard she decides to look through all the names until she comes across a grave marked with name ‘Valentine Joe Strudwick’. Immediately she is distraught to know that a boy aged only a year younger than her had died in the ‘Great War’. She immediately can’t stop thinking about the boy and gets so caught up in him that she ends up going back in time and meeting Valentine Joe to find that he is a very confident and charming person who she immediately falls for. She then follows him on his journey to death being invisible except to Joe and a dog called Tommy.

My favourite part is when she takes the picture out of her window of the scenery outside the hotel and finds that the picture is in fact not what she thought it would be but that the street is in fact completely different to what she sees.  I enjoyed this part because it is quite clever how it leaves a sense of question about what is in the picture and what is not. My least favourite part is when the reader finds out all the weird nicknames all the members of Roses’ family have been given (Cabbage, Dadmob and Mummob).  I didn’t like this because I found it quite weird that someone would be called a vegetable.

On the whole I actually enjoyed this book despite claims from others in my class that it was not very good.  I enjoyed it because when Rose goes back into the past it showed a great sense of realism and empathy for people and families in the war.  I would recommend it to anyone 10 and over.

Lara, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe is about a girl called Rose. Her father died last year and Rose is still overcome with grief and sorrow. But only when her beloved granddad takes her on an unforgettable trip to Belgium and Rose meets Valentine Joe, a WW1 soldier, she starts to understand real tragedy and learns to let the past go.

I loved this book but I don’t think there is much to say about it because it is really short except that it’s very emotional and has a great plot but I read it in an hour and it is a very easy read. It was short but it ended properly and there was nothing more to say that I wanted to know. I would recommend it for anyone aged 8-12.

Lara, Jewish Community Secondary School

Lauren, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe is the story of a young girl named Rose, whose granddad takes her on a trip to Ypres, in Belgium, to go see his uncle’s grave from the First World War. She feels very lonely, especially after her dad died. Her mum has drifted away from Rose, and the only way she can escape is sending texts to her dad’s old phone. While visiting the graves, Rose catches sight of the gravestone of a young 15-year-old boy who also fought in the war, named Valentine Joe, who died the night before his 16th birthday. That night, when Rose couldn't sleep, she looks outside her bedroom window and sees soldiers marching in the town. She catches sight of one particular soldier, and realises that it’s Valentine Joe. From there on she is magically transported into the time of the First World War, and tries to protect Joe before it’s too late.

What I like best about this book is how it’s so gripping and detailed. Although it’s a short book, it’s fantastic. My favourite character is probably Grandpa, because he is so funny, witty and has a great sense of humour.

What I don’t really like about this book is how it is a bit rushed towards the end, and leaves us with questions like, how did Rose suddenly, magically transport back in time to when she meets Valentine Joe? 

Overall, I think it’s a heart-warming war story which you will always remember. I’d recommend this book to ages 10+.

Leon, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a book about a 14-year-old girl, who while on a trip with her grandfather, goes back in time to WWI and meets a young soldier, Valentine Joe.  Rose, a slightly shy teenager currently dealing with the loss of her dad, is visiting Ypres with her Grandfather to visit war graves, when a series of strange events take place. When taking a photo, she realises that the photo is the street from WWI. After that, when going for a walk, she is transported back to 1914, but only for a brief period, as she goes back when at the hotel. That night she looks out the window and finds that many soldiers are marching down the road, and goes outside to see what it’s about. She meets Valentine Joe, and soon realises that she is back in 1914 at the outbreak of the war. A dog which she met back in the 21st century is with her, as they follow Valentine, as he’s the only one who can see her. They see him fight and loose his friends, go back to England and come back, only to die going "over the top". Upon waking up, her coat is missing, one which she took when she was in the past, and also she finds Valentine's valentine gift to her, proving that it really happened. She then adopts the dog that came back in time with her and it ends.

The book while following the story of Rose is also a book about the war. Valentine Joe is only 15 in the book, which shows how young people who fought sometimes were. The book also mentions the graveyard, and how many people died every few minutes. The book also is also shows the desperation of soldiers, as when both his friends die, he is given a choice to go home, takes it reluctantly, but then comes back “Because otherwise it would all be a waste”. 

I personally thought the book was good, even though at some points it was a bit disappointing, like when she wakes up after being in the WWI world, which even though afterwards it is revealed, you couldn’t help thinking it was a bit weak. All in all, it is written well and is enjoyable to read. The fact that only he could see her was a bit cheesy, but his character is realistic and not ridiculous and what he says is not weird but seems like stuff people would actually say, making it less ridiculous and more relatable. 

I would personally recommend the book the book to someone who is interested in the war, but I would be more sceptical.

Louis, from University College School London

I have recently finished the book Valentine Joe. It is a fascinating book about World War One. It gives you an insight into the war from a spectator who actually goes into the trenches but not for a fighting reason. The plot is that a young girl around 12 years old visits Belgium (Ypres) with her mourning grandpa because of the unfortunate death of his son and the girl’s dad. The actual reason they go to Belgium is because of the grandpa’s sorrows higher on the family tree. They visit the graves of those who died in the Great War in respect but Rose (the girl) finds other interests in another grave. This grave was the one of Joe the English soldier. That night, Rose hears marching and when she looks out of her window, she sees an army of soldiers. From then on Belgium isn’t the same!

I didn’t particularly get addicted to this book but I enjoyed it, as it is different and peculiar. I thought the character Rose was tremendous because of her adventurous personality. Even when something scared her she carried on. I thought Stevens really described her in a way that made you feel like you felt sorry for her and when she had troubles the reader also did. Brian (Grandpa) was also a great aspect to the book with his stereotypical old man doings. I thought that he could have been involved in the book more to make it more interesting. Joe also is a fantastic character due to his ability to please almost everyone. I enjoyed the suspense and mystery in the book but I disliked the length of it and the overall plot. I would recommend it to people who revel in War and like to be frightened a little. I would rate it 6.5/10 overall.

Melis, from Wren Academy Barnet

My initial thoughts, as I began to read this book, were that I didn’t really know what I was going to think of it. At the beginning of this story, there is a small part of a famous poem “In Flanders’ Fields” by John McCrae, before the first chapter begins. I didn’t know much about Valentine Joe or the other boy soldiers, and so didn’t know what to expect. However, as I read more into the story it became multi-layered and interesting. 

Rose is a 14-year-old girl, who is travelling to Ypres, Belgium with her grandfather in order to pay respect to her great uncle George. Rose’s dad had just died and she was dealing with that loss with great difficulty – a loss touched upon continually throughout the book.

On her trip to Belgium to visit the large Essex Farm memorial site, she discovers the grave of 15-year-old Valentine Joe Strudwick, who she later magically goes back in time to meet. I found Valentine Joe’s character chirpy, cheeky and very engaging, and so was really upset when I found out what happened to the boy.

Joe and Rose (along with their trusty dog Tommy) experience a tiny amount of the pain, suffering and horrors of World War I, (Stevens portrays Rose’s relationship with Joe as affectionate and heartfelt) and that is something no two children should ever face, let alone men.

Towards the conclusion, Joe, Rose and Tommy are (significantly) in a trench, and the horrors of the mucky filthiness of it, the stench of death and the hope for a sweet release are almost overpowering. Joe seems to know of his fate, and so says goodbye to Rose, Tommy and his own life, dying a child, never growing up and never seeing the end of the war. Rose becomes a stronger person after meeting Valentine Joe, because she learns that even though the past can’t be changed, you can learn to live with it. Just as this story opens up and develops, so does Rose’s character - and she found strength and confidence.

To conclude, I would say that despite the somewhat simplicity of Rebecca Stevens’ writing style, the reader is drawn into, and faces, some of the horrors, emotions and heartache experienced by those in the trenches. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish; this book made me think about and respect those who died in the Great War, like a young boy who fought and died in an adults’ war. 

Mipham, from Queen Elizabeth's Boys School, Barnet

Valentine Joe is a short novel about WW1, depicting life in the trenches for a “Tommy” in Ypres through the insights of a young girl seeing the past and the life of one Valentine Joe, a 15-year-old soldier.

I think this is a really thoughtful book with a lot of sentimental points coming through about the horrors of war, which Rose comes across in her journey to the past. The book has a lot of new writing styles not seen in older books such as the text writing style which seems to personify the characters better and make them more believably modern. With a rather sombre but exciting way of putting Rose into the time period, she walks out following a dog, which leads her through to 1915, and Joe too. I think the character which felt the most real and my favourite was Grandad, with his funny quips and terrible French accent. He seemed the most human and the most relate-able to me personally. I also really liked the dog, strange as it may seem because his tail wagging and sad head was something I could visualise and really feel sorry for.

The most interesting scene of the book was in the hospital, after Joe is gravely injured by the mustard gas and Rose goes to comfort him, telling him not to go back - but he explains afterwards that out of loyalty to his friends, the ones who didn't make it, he has to go back and finish what he started. This almost made me cry as Rose, a 21st-century figure, couldn't understand why Joe was so stubborn in wanting to go back, and promised to hold his hand. The different parts of the story were interesting in different ways and the visits to the past certainly kept me wanting to turn pages for more. My only improvement would be that the beginning on the train was a little weak. Although normal, the journey could have been a little bit more enticing to draw me in a little faster although I did find that it was worth the wait.

All in all it was a great book that I would recommend to anyone in secondary school and the cover certainly helps! Teenagers, who have begun to study the time period of WW1 might find this extra interesting. A very good read.

Mona, from Wren Academy Barnet

He was 15

Old enough to fight

Too young to die

Valentine Joe is an incredibly moving book and show deep emotional in every chapter.

Rose recently lost her father and is on her way to Ypres with her grandfather to visit the war graves and to pay her respects for her Great Uncle George. However among hundred of neatly rowed graves one catches her eye.

VJ Strudwick The Rifle brigade 14th January 1916  Aged 15

Not Gone from Memory Or From Love

After seeing this Rose’s life changed forever. After experiencing life in the trenches she realises that the past is in the past and the future waits to be told.

Mori, from Wren Academy Barnet

Valentine Joe is a heart warming story of a girl called Rose, who lost her father, and likes to write messages to him, just to feel like he's still there with her. She visits the graves in Ypres with her grandfather, who's hoping to find his uncle's grave. When they get to the cemetery, she sees the grave of a boy, only fifteen, called Valentine Joe, who was in the war, and died in battle. That night, she ends up going back in time, and meets Joe, who happens to be the only one to see her. She ends up going on an adventure to stop Joe from going to the war with a dog she met earlier: Tommy.

I loved the story so much, and it pulled me in and got me very interested. My favourite character was Rose, who was brave enough to go on her adventure, even though she was an ordinary teenager like me.

I'd rate this story a: 4.5 out of 5, because it was brilliant, and I enjoyed it very much.

Nemo, from Jewish Community Secondary School

On a trip to Ypres with her grandfather, Rose is deeply moved by the grave of a fifteen-year-old soldier, Valentine Joe. That night, she finds herself suddenly back in the days of the War. When she meets the young soldiers she is determined to try to change their destiny. But can she? This was an original and deeply moving story which brings the War vividly to life.

I enjoyed reading Valentine Joe. It was a real page turner. I enjoyed the relevant topic due to the anniversary of the war. In addition, ‘jumping into the past’ made the sad story more enjoyable. However, I found the plot of the book extremely predictable and you couldn’t really feel for the characters. I think the author needed to give the characters more depth so that the readers could empathise with them more and for the whole plot to be more realistic. I also thought the book could’ve been longer to give time to know the characters a bit better. Despite these points I loved reading the book and would recommend it for everyone over the age of 9.

I give this book a 3.5/5 stars.

Noah, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a book about a girl named Rose who goes to Ypres, a place full of history of World War One, (the Great War). She goes with her grandfather, who calls her "Cabbage", who wants to see a grave. When at Essex Farm, the grave yard, she sees the grave of a boy named Valentine Joe (hence the book name), who died at only 15. She is taken aback by the young age, and shocked at how he was allowed to join the army. Rose then goes back to their hotel, and starts to see strange visions, as if she is 100 years ago. She then meets the boy who she realises is Valentine Joe. Rose feels like she is with him, and only he (and a dog who exists in both worlds) can see her. She meets him throughout his timeline, from the night before he turned 15, to when he was called to the front line, to when he dies. She then goes back to her grandfather and adopts the dog, and finally accepts the death of her father.

What I liked about the book was how it had a mixture of romance, sadness, funniness and history. Although the main character, Rose, is a bit stereotypical in the fact that she has some emotional attachment to a dead person, a small group of friends and a character that is not extremely strong, you do get to know her, and her quirky grandfather, and feel an attachment to them. The book is also excellent at describing the sad spirit of the Great War, and the misery of the soldiers, and how unknowing they are of the horrors of joining the army, thinking it would be all fun and games and adventure, which many Great War based books fail to capture, making the book very good in a way.

However, there are many points about the book that I was not so keen on. Rose’s character is not very specific, and although being average can make the character be more identifiable to the average reader, and the vacuum of real characteristics can let the reader project themselves into the body of Rose, she does not feel much like a person so much as a girl in a book. The plot line of the book is also very obvious, and with no subplot and a main story that is unsure whether it is a romance, a mystery or a history, the reader is often at a loss to what the book is about, the simple plot made easy reading. I personally could not find myself submerged in the book; with weak characters, an unrealistic setting, and a plot that is not the height of complexity, the book leaves much to be desired.

In summary, the book is quite simple, and an easy read. I would recommend this book to people who are new to reading, do not have much time to read, or are looking for a quick read. However, people who would like a book to get into, I would not recommend this book at all. I will only give this book an average three out of five, due to its lack of character personality and plot complexity.

Oliver, from University College School London

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens is a book I personally disliked.  However, just because I didn’t properly appreciate what she has written doesn’t mean it isn’t for you.This book has an intricate and finely woven plot which could draw the reader in.  The plot consists of an ordinary teenage girl, Rose, who becomes depressed after the death of her much loved father.  A substantial period of time after his death she goes on a trip with her grandfather, who also suffers from the loss of his son, to visit the graves of the men who died in the Great War.

At the War Memorial she spots a name on a grave of a fifteen year old boy named Valentine Joe who died in combat ‘fighting for his country’.  That night she mysteriously travels back in time and meets Joe; she then embarks on an adventure to save the boy from his guaranteed demise.

There are three main characters in the story, the first of whom is Rose; she is the main protagonist and the person the story follows.  Rose has never recovered from the loss of her father.  The next is Rose’s grandfather; we learn very little about him and his past, only learning that he fought in the Great War alongside his late brother.  He too has never got over the death of his son or the loss of his brother.

The third and final main character is Valentine Joe, a young boy four years too young to enrol in the armed forces, but with two friends enrols anyway for the hell of it believing it will be an adventure and he will be back home for Christmas.  He soon discovers the hell that is trench warfare yet still does not admit his age and go home.  Instead he goes over the top, first to join the two friends he enlisted with and then to avenge their deaths.

The story’s setting and time period change frequently, from a small war stricken village half blown to bits by German bombs and shells with most residents evacuated to a modern day train.  Rose finds herself in both time periods.

Despite some strong characters, I can’t say I enjoyed this book.  I found the constant change of time and setting confusing and did not enjoy the romantic theme.  Most critically of all, there was no character I could relate to or even engage with: Rose, a 14 year old who had lost her father; an old man who mourned his son and a 15 year old boy prepared to die.  For me to be engrossed in a book I need a character to relate to but sadly Valentine Joe didn’t give me that.  I feel that this is a romance story for ten to fourteen year olds.


Oskar, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a book written by Rebecca Stevens and is about World War One and the events that happened in Joe’s life when he was stationed in Ypres.

The main plot is that her grandfather Brian takes her to Ypres, where the graves of all the soldiers that died are, to pay respects to his dead brother. Rose agrees to come she would miss her friend’s party but she is sad about her dad and goes to Ypres. When Rose is walking along all of the rows she notices that one of the graves has a lot more flowers than the others. So she goes over to the grave and reads the man’s name Valentine Joe, her granddad later explains that he was the youngest boy to every die as a soldier in the war and that he was about her age which is 15. After discovering this information she starts thinking a lot and eventually starts travelling back in time which leaves the reader thinking all of the time what is the fate of Joe and Rose.

I think this book is very clever with the time travelling and the detail of all of Ypres. This book is also very good with characters my favourite characters are Joe, Rose and the dog who they call Tommy. 

This book is a good book it leaves you thinking a lot of the time and after reading this book I myself would like to visit Ypres someday. I recommend this book to people who stay focused and don’t just get bored with the first few pages because sometimes this book can get a bit boring. This book would fall in half romance category half history category because they time travel back in time and that gives it its history element and Rose and Joe have some unusual bond between them so that gives it the romance part.

Rachel, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Rose travels to Belgium with her granddad to go and visit cemetery’s where people had passed away fighting for their country. When Rose visits the cemetery a boy called Valentine Joe, fifteen years old and he died a month before his sixteenth birthday (the 14th January), gets stuck in her head. 

That night Rose can’t sleep because the only thing she is thinking about is Valentine Joe. But she is awoken by men in uniforms marching around a square, but she spots her eye on a young boy with a dog... is it Valentine Joe?

Valentine Joe is a really good book although it took me a while to get into it. It is a heart-breaking story that is about old and young men that unfortunately died in the war and how friends will take their life away so they can be together! 

I would recommend young adults, those at the start of secondary school, and people that like war stories to read Valentine Joe.

Raluca, from Copthall School, Barnet

Valentine Joe is an 'okay' book. It's about a girl called Rose, who has an adventure with a young soldier, called Valentine Joe. I don't want to spoil the plot too much! The book is about WW1. For my taste, I would like the story to cover a longer time period and not be so focussed on one night. Being less than 200 pages, and the characters under 16, I think this book is for young/teenage readers. I found the story a bit awkward at first, but then enjoyable and you'll shed a few tears. I don't think the book was for me, but it was alright in the end. Stars 3.5/5

Ryan, from University College School London

This book starts off with a girl named Rose whose dad had just passed away last year and a mother who is nearly on the verge of death. The only way she escapes from her horrible world is to send texts to her dads’ old mobile.

Then her grandfather decides to take Rose on a trip to Ypres, to visit his uncle’s grave who died in the First World War. They stay in a hotel where Rose finds a lonely stray dog. When they look at each other it is like they have known each other for their whole life because they have such a strong bonded connection. Then later that day she eats her granddads custard creams. After they have eaten Roses grandfather takes her to the old graveyard to see her great uncle, but something catches her eye and it was the grave of a fifteen year old boy named Valentine Joe.

Valentine Joe was killed one night before his sixteenth birthday which is really sad because he didn’t get to see how the world changed he didn’t get to play sports like the other children. He died at an age where no child or human being should die at. That following night she comes to the ledge of the hotel's window and spots a soldier and a very cute dog. From here she gets taken into the past, but can she save Valentine Joe.

I think that Rebecca Stevens has fit a very detailed and dramatic story of a very modern girl experiencing the life of a boy in the First World War. I enjoyed this book a lot and would like to read more like it.

Sam, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens is a tale of a young girl named Rose. The teenage girl, whose father recently passed away, travels to Ypres in Belgium with her grandfather to visit the grave of his uncle. There, the grave of Valentine Joe Strudwick catches her eye, a soldier of only 15 years of age, who died the night before his birthday. That name sticks in her mind for the rest of the day. That night in the hotel she cannot get to asleep and out of her bedroom window she spots a WWI soldier. Soon she realises she had somehow gone back over 100 years in time and that she needs to save Valentine Joe’s life before it is too late.

Pros: Despite only being quite a short book, the author manages to pull it off and make a really enjoyable read.

You can really relate to the character.  For instance, you really get to know Rose and understand what she feels like.

Cons: The whole story itself despite being very good is also very predictable in the sense that you can guess what will happen.

In conclusion I really enjoyed this book and found it rather moving at times. I think it is well-written and despite the predictability, it is a very interesting and captivating story. I definitely recommend you read it.

Sam, from University College School London

The book Valentine Joe is a about a fatherless fourteen-year-old girl, Rose who goes to Ypres in Belgium with her grandfather to visit her grandfather’s uncle's grave. When she gets off the train in Ypres she sees a dog and she thinks that the dog is homeless because it does not have a collar. When Rose and granddad got to the hotel they dropped their bags and set off to find Essex Farm were Granddad’s uncle was buried. The reason they go to visit the grave because he did not get a proper send off from his brother so granddad always wanted to give him the good bye from his family with Rose.

When Granddad and Rose got to the cemetery, Essex Farm, they searched for his grave. Once they stopped looking and found his grave granddad kneeled down on one knee and laid down flowers and Rose shed a few drops of tears which rolled on to her coat. As Granddad was gathering all of his thoughts Rose was walking round the cemetery trying not to cry she saw a grave stone that showed Valentine Joe died at the age of sixteen.

Rose could not stop thinking about Valentine Joe and how someone two years older could join the army and die. That night rose had a dream that Ypres had a raid from the Great War and Valentine Joe saved her life and they became friends…

Overall I did not enjoy this book that much because the author should have made the book more clear. I would not recommend this book for those reasons.

Sarah, from St James Catholic High School

I thought this book was both interesting and different.  It’s like time-travel fiction because you go back 100 years.  There’s this girl called Rose who is travelling to Ypres to see her uncle George’s grave but while in the graveyard she is drawn to a 15-year-old boys grave called Valentine Joe, and she can’t stop thinking about him and then it all starts to get weird…

I would recommend this book as it is heart warming and even if you don’t like time-travel fiction you would like this book.  It is really just about choices.

It isn’t just a book it’s a masterpiece.

Thomas, from University College School London

Valentine Joe is a book about a girl called Rose who goes back in time to the First World War where she meets an underage soldier called Valentine Joe who is serving in the army at just 14. Her dad has recently died and she and her mum are struggling to get along due to the fact that someone they love so much has passed away. At the beginning of the book Rose is unable to communicate with her mum so she texts her dead dad instead. At the end of the book a lot changes for Rose.

The genre of this book is fiction but it is based on a true story about a real soldier and his friends Fred and Tonk. I think it is aimed at readers between the ages of ten and fourteen and either boys or girls would like it.

The main characters in Valentine Joe are Valentine Joe a young 14 year old soldier with ‘a sparkle in his eye’, Rose, a teenage girl who has previously lost her dad and is very shy with boys, Rose’s grandfather who wants to visit the grave of his Uncle George who fought in the First World War and Rose’s father who, although dead, is a big presence in the book. Tommy the dog is the only one other than Rose who exists in both times. There are some other minor characters in the book but I believe they are less important than these five.

The main idea of the book is that Rose goes to Belgium with her grandpa to visit the grave of Uncle George. Along the way, Rose goes back in time from a spooky town called Ypres to the First World War where she meets a boy called Valentine Joe who she falls in love with even though they are from completely different eras which are a hundred years apart.

The author in this book has created a very strong sense of place at all points in the novel. Some of the settings described well in the book are the ‘not square square’ and the hotel with the smart forum. This really made me think about a trip I made to Amsterdam with some of my friends from school. Some other settings that were well described were; Essex Farm where the gravestones were laid in ‘straight lines of white stones which seemed to stretch on for miles’ and finally the trenches near the end of the book which Rose describes as ‘muddy walls on two sides and what seems like sleeping men lined along both left and right’.

This book is all about love, relationships, sacrifice and loyalty, with Valentine Joe losing his life out of loyalty to his friends who lost theirs and grandpa being loyal to his uncle and let’s not forget the super loyal Tommy the dog!

One thing I really liked about this book was how the author always kept you in suspense throughout, leaving me wondering who was relevant from the past to the people who were in the present.

All of the above are examples of how the author has written this book well but the one thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending. This is because I was expecting a really clever link from the past to somebody from the present but I personally think the link that the author made was a bit weak.

In conclusion, I believe that Valentine Joe is a book that really messes with your emotions and is written in a way that keeps you glued but I felt a bit dissatisfied with the ending.

Thomas, from University College School London

Valentine Joe, written by Rebecca Stevens and published in early 2014, is a book set in present day a 15-year-old teenager called Rose. A year ago she lost her father who she misses a lot. But today she is going to Belgium to visit the grave of her grand father’s uncle who died in the war, and his father never got to say goodbye.

Rose’s father died a year ago and ever since she has been mourning him and texting his old phone giving him updates even though she knows he isn’t there. The book starts the day before Valentine’s Day and Rose is going to Belgium to see the graves with her grandfather. Her trip is uneventful at first but she is shocked to find out that something nice can have a horrible backstory. As she gets off the train she sees a dog with wiry fur that looks homeless. Little does she know what it is going to be with her throughout. They check into the hotel and they decide to go to find the grave of her great uncle. At the cemetery she also sees a grave of a boy called Valentine Joe who died at only 15. Next morning she awakes to her disbelief to hear the sound of marching and gunfire and sees a young 15-year-old happily smiling at her.

The main character Rose has low self esteem and is socially awkward, as she doesn’t want to speak to any boys. She also wishes she could live in the past with her father who died a year before the book begins. Ever since her dad’s death she has “lived in a bubble.” Avoiding people and events. Her mother has not helped by doing the same thing. Valentine Joe who prefers to be called Joe is a 15-year-old soldier that signed up to the army because he was bored. Joe fancies himself quite a charmer consistently trying to get a kiss from Rose. Joe is considerably average like lots of the privates in World War 1. He shows how lots of people’s lives were disrupted and forever changed by the war and its effects. The final character is Rose’s grandfather, a stereotypical grandfather that saves a special voice for foreigners. He is lovely and kind and loves Rose with all his heart being one of his only family members left. He also has a love of biscuits.

I thought this book was good and was an easy quick read with simple language. The plot was interesting and had a cast of strange but likeable characters. This book really does show that World War 1 was terrible and took away many loved ones from many loving families. I would recommend this book to anyone who is ten and above as it makes the topics easier to understand and some of the situations more relatable, and to anyone that likes historical books.