A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this story can help kids start learning about World War II, Nazis, and child refugees. Stephie is a relatable character who fights with her sister, worries about her parents (whom she is separated from), and discovers her inner courage. While the war is kept at a distance, there are moments when Stephanie remembers her life before she left Germany, including the beating of a couple and the killing of a dog.
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What's the story?
In 1939, Viennese Jewish sisters Stephanie and Nellie are sent by their parents as refugees to Sweden. They're placed with different families on a small, windswept island, where they hope that their parents will join them later. Nellie learns Swedish quickly, makes friends, and lives with a kind family. But older sister Stephanie picks up Swedish more slowly, lives with a cold old woman, and is bullied at school. She longs for the day that she's reunited with her parents, but that's looking more and more unlikely. Includes Author's Note.
Is it any good?
This seamless translation from Swedish, based on an event little-known in that country, will help kids begin to learn about tough topics like World War II, Nazis, and child refugees. It takes place outside of the more extreme crimes of the war, but kids will still be moved by this realistic tale of children torn apart from their parents and learning to live in a foreign place.
See our discussion guide for ideas for delving into the themes here and our list of other recommended books for kids who are ready to delve more deeply into the stories of Jewish children in WWII.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about WWII and its impact on kids and families. What did kids know about the war before reading this book? How can they find out more?
The author wrote this book based, in part, on interviews with 500 Jews who, like Stephie, spent WWII in Sweden as child refugees. Do you feel differently about the book knowing that real kids went through what Stephie did?
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