I first read this book as a child many years ago, then read it aloud to children and have just re-read for probably the 5th time as part of the #PinkRabbitReadalong organised by Lorraine Gregory and Annaliese Avery to honour the legacy of Judith Kerr.
It is such a wonderful story, narrated in the third person but based on the author’s own experience of fleeing Berlin immediately before Hitler was elected. Through the characters of nine-year-old Anna and her older brother Max, children can travel in the footsteps of two refugees from Nazi Germany as they journey through Europe looking for a home to replace the comfortable existence that they had enjoyed in Berlin. The tone is perfect for children due to the eloquent description laced with good humour and Anna’s matter-of-fact observations.
I am always amazed at Anna’s ability to see the family’s plight as a great adventure and to take the positive from every experience. The author’s skill in recounting the tale as experienced by a child but imbuing it with the hindsight of an adult who so narrowly escaped a terrible fate is astonishing. Each time I have read the chapter describing the train journey experienced by Anna, Max and their mother, out of Germany to join their father in Zurich, and their approach to the Swiss border I feel the tension so palpably that I grip the book as tightly as Anna’s mother clings to her handbag.
Re-reading this masterpiece during refugee week and with the knowledge of the priceless legacy that Judith Kerr has left to the world of children’s literature makes the experience even more poignant. I treasure this story where we can all step into the shoes of a nine year old girl who experienced displacement, and admire the courage of a family who overcame hardship to find a new place in the world. I hope that it reminds us all to offer kindness to those who are struggling and to look for positives in all situations. I highly recommend this story to everyone, young and old alike.
As well as #PinkRabbitReadalong this is #Book3 in my #20BooksofSummer created by Cathy at 746books.com