Then by Morris Gleitzmann
This has been out for absolutely ages. I know that it spent over a year on my ‘must read’ pile and then I returned it last year when life went crazy. But now its sequel is raising to the top of the review pile, so I needed to get it read. So after Terminal World, it was a good choice.
The book Once saw Felix and his friend Zelda escape from the Nazis. In Then Felix, a young Jew is aware of the danger, but little Zelda at only 6 still feels invincible, making rude gestures at soldiers and making noise when it is important to hide in silence. Somehow Felix has to find a place for the two of them to hide. The book opens with them looking for a family to adopt them for the remainder of the war. Instead they stumble onto a mass grave where the Nazis recently slaughtered children because they wanted their orphanage as a hostel for the Hitler Youth. After days without food, they are found by a farmer who takes them into her home. It is hard to change their names and pretend to be someone else, but all seems to be going well. But then comes Felix’s ‘birthday’…
This is a book written for younger children, but it is not one of those nice happy stories. I remember the public furore when Rowlings killed Cedric. Well everyone who thinks that children must be protected from any mention of death will be absolutely livid at this book. But as an introduction to the Holocaust and the many civilians who tried to help the Jews, this book is a treasure.
An important book for the collection.