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North to Freedom
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
David is a twelve-year-old who has spent his entire life in a prison camp in eastern Europe. For reasons he does not understand, the head guard allows him to escape. He is told, without knowing why, to make his way to Denmark. He stows away on a ship to Italy, then travels north on foot, fearing everyone, eluding recapture, learning to survive in a world that seems entirely alien to him.
He has no family that he knows of, and knows nothing about himself or the world outside the camp. He is bright and reasoning, but has little useful experience, and thus misunderstands almost everything he sees. Other children he finds especially difficult, and the idea of imaginative play is completely beyond him. Yet some things, like brutality and evil, he understands all too well, and more clearly than many of the people he encounters.
Is it any good?
This breathtaking adventure packs an emotional wallop and an unusual depth of compassionate understanding into a book kids have trouble putting down. It's truly one of the finest children's novels ever written. Only once in a great while does a book with this kind of power come along. It has all the elements of the ideal children's book: a riveting plot, a powerfully sympathetic main character, and an intriguing point of view. But it goes far beyond the usual children's literature, with layers of intellectual and emotional depth that keep readers coming back to it again and again.
David's first encounters with such things as bright colors, a bath, and good people are touching and, amazingly, exciting. His convictions are well reasoned and often cause young readers to evaluate their own ideas about suiting their actions to their beliefs. Many children at this age find in David a unique role model whose goodness comes from indomitable strength and courage. The reader sees through David's fresh eyes the ordinary things of everyday life. An orange, a beautiful landscape, a school, all suddenly appear as the miracles they are. And as David constructs his own relationship with "the God of the green pastures and still waters" from fragments of the Bible and his own perception of the world, the reader hears the ancient words anew. North to Freedom is hard to put down, and harder to forget.