One of the children’s stories about World War Two that I have heard a few people mention was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and as luck would have it our local library had it on their shelves so we decided to have a read and I must admit it is a beautifully written account of the impact of Nazi Germany on a families life.
Anna is nine and loving her life in Germany. Her dad is a famous writer, she has a comfortable life, friends and enjoys her school but her family is Jewish (they are not a practicing Jewish family but they have Jewish blood which is enough it the eyes of the Nazis for them to be targeted). Quite suddenly Anna’s dad disappears (he has to flee to the country after getting a tip that he was on a list) and his family start getting ready to follow him.
The entire experience is written through the eyes of nine-year old Anna, you (the reader) get to experience what it would have been been like to suddenly have to leave your home, relocate to Switzerland, then onto Paris and when even that gets unsafe finally onto London. It is a lot of change for young kids, different countries, different schools, different languages and different ways of doing things. And every time they are forced to move the families finances seem to get tighter and tighter as her dad struggles to find work. It is an eye-opening account and one that does seem to ring true and sincere. So I found it interesting to read that the author wrote this story as a way of explaining to her kids what she went through fleeing Germany and living as a refugee.
Both my daughter and I read Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and we both thought it was a lovely story about an ordinary family having to cope with becoming refugees. It was moving, interesting had a few moments of adventure and even funny in a few instances. I found it interesting because it deals with a slightly different angle to most of the world war two stories that we had already read – I liked the fact that you got to understand the point of German’s fleeing their home country, coping in different countries and having to adapt to a new life.
After we had finished When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit we noticed that there were two follow up stories. Bombs on Aunt Dainty and A Small Person Far Away. So we borrowed both of those as well. Now I must say I felt like When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit would be fine for any kiddo aged 9 and over but the other two I feel are more for older kids / teens. In Bombs on Aunt Dainty Anna and her family are know living in London, surviving the Blitz and coping with everyday life in War time England. And there were lots of great moments that were very interesting to read (like being in a building when it gets bombed) but she does deal with an older relationship. Anna starts going to an evening art class and ends up having a relationship with her 40 year old teacher. There are no explicit sex scenes, and they just kiss but I felt like any kid reading this needs to understand the issues behind a young 17 year old girl having a relationship with a 40 year old teacher, so for that reason I would think it is not suitable for 9 year olds.
In the third Book A Small Person Far Away, Anna is now grown up and married and has to deal with the emotional impact of going back to Germany after her mom tries to commit suicide. The third book in the series is a lot slower, there are none of the more adventurous scenes like in the first two and it is quite emotional as Anna needs to confront her fear of being in Germany and face the fact that maybe her mother just does not want to live. My daughter found this a bit hard to read and we did have to discuss this and talk about why the mother just wanted to give up (the author also starts to deal with the fact that Anna’s relationship with her mother is actually not a healthy relationship but she does not go into too much detail on this – however some kids may pick this up and need to discuss the fact that Anna’s mother has a tendency to manipulate her kids and can be emotionally cruel when she does not get her own way).
I think all three books were well written and interesting but I do think which ones you choose to read depends on your individual kids. The first one is by far the most interesting and I would definitely say include that on your book list but possibly think about your kids age and maturity when you consider including the second and third one.
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