The Emergency Zoo

By Miriam Halahmy

Age range: 8–9; Book Band Y4/P5 Brown B; Emerald

ISBN: 9781846883972

256 pages

RRP: £7.19

It is late August 1939: Britain is on the brink of war, and preparations are under way to evacuate London’s children to the countryside. When twelve-year-old Tilly and her best friend Rosy find out that they will not be able to take their beloved dog and cat with them – and that, even worse, their pets will, along with countless other animals, be taken to the vet to be put down – they decide to take action. The two girls come up with the idea of hiding them in a derelict hut in the woods and, when other children find out and start bringing their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, their secret den turns into an emergency zoo.

Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Miriam Halahmy’s novel is a touching tale of courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie in desperate times, as well as a stirring defence of animal welfare.

Teachers’ resources can be found here (right click to download the PDF)


  • A classic den-in-the-woods adventure for age nine to 12 and a subtle fable about asylum-seekers

    The Jewish Chronicle

  • A tautly written and compelling novel, it is a stirring defence of animal welfare

    The Lady Magazine

  • This book is sure to be enjoyed by animal-lovers, history enthusiasts and fans of children outsmarting the grown-ups.

    The Library Girl and Book Boy

  • This is a sympathetic and moving story of a side of war that doesn’t receive much attention and fills a gap in children’s war literature.

    Childtastic Books

  • A winning formula of war, animals and friendship

    Inis Magazine

  • A tremendous book for a gentle exploration of one small facet of the Second World War.

    Minerva Reads

  • Inspired by real events during the Second World War, this is a touching tale of courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie in desperate times.

    Junior News & Mail

  • It's a story that needed to be told – what happened to animals before and during the war is glossed over. By telling the story in such a compassionate manner, from the viewpoint of children, the author has enlightened us and given us a new understanding

    Parents in Touch

  • Miriam Halahmy has written a warm and touching story of friendship, courage and loyalty. A lovely and moving book. Highly recommended for 10+.

    The Historical Novel Society

Miriam Halahmy

Miriam Halahmy is an author and a poet. She has published four novels and three collections of poetry, as well as short stories and education resources. Her YA novel, Hidden, was a Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. It has recently been staged in a small Paris theatre.