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Summary: This is a seven-year-old's personal story of when the German army marched into her hometown of Breda. She recounts the impact that the German invasion had on her family, friends and the community. This is an eye-witness account of the German invasion and occupation of Holland 1939 – 1945.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: This is a very engaging story. Rarely do you encounter the story of this period of history from a child’s point of view, particularly a European child whose very town was occupied by German soldiers. I really appreciated her honesty in portraying her understandable feelings of resentment and anger about how the Germans treated her family, friends, and fellow countrymen, particularly the Jewish population of Holland. At the same time, she was able to achieve a balance in the story in depicting details of how she and her family lived, celebrated holidays, how she and her brothers continued to go to school, and tried to live as normal a life as possible during extraordinary conditions. Readers ages 11-14 need to understand that the book is really a memoir, not a novel.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story relates how the citizens of Breda responded to the German occupation. Having the story related by a seven year old provides the reader with an insight that is truly awe inspiring.
Pros: This is a great read and is well written. Though World War II is provides the backdrop, the real story is what is happening to the lives of the people of Breda on a daily basis. The seven year old telling the story keeps the focus on real day-to-day issues that occupation and war presented the people of Breda.
Cons: There are no serious shortfalls in this book. The only thing that might have been done was to provide English pronunciation for some of the Dutch locations and expressions.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This book is a nice gift for a 12 to 14 year old. It is an excellent biographical account and one that should grab the advanced reader. It is certainly worthy of consideration by middle/junior high school libraries and for community library shelves.