What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, for a wartime book, there is not a lot of violence. But there is a moment when a boy is shot and apparently killed (it turns out to be a flesh wound), and there are references to soldiers fighting and being killed and injured.
What's the story?
Petros's family are farmers in rural Greece. When their small town is occupied by the Germans during WWII, and the German colonel comes to live in their house, they try to go on with their lives as best as they can. But with a secret past and a resistance soldier hiding in their well, even the most ordinary life becomes dangerous.
Is it any good?
Based on Akila Couloumbis' wartime childhood memories, this story has a reality much different from most Hollywood-influenced war stories. But by the same token, real life in an occupied village wasn't always filled with slam-bang excitement, and this story can be slow at times -- realistic, but not always enthralling. This is best for patient readers. Those who do have the patience will find that the suspense and tension ratchet slowly up, and there are moments that are breathless and moving.
There are no great victories or defeats, though the ending is quite satisfying, there's no resolution, little in the way of heroics, and no cardboard villains either. In fact it's the German colonel, doing his best to make an unpleasant situation less unpleasant, who says, "I think we can agree. Wars should be fought among men, not boys. Boys have to grow up. Even in war, boys play." These are people who quietly endure, who try to live a life as ordinary as possible in extraordinary times, and who know what's most important.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the situation Petros and his family are in. What would you do if you were Petros? If you were his parents? If you were the colonel?
What would you do if your town was occupied by an enemy? If the leader came to live in your house? How could you resist without endangering your family?
Why doesn't Petros' family acknowledge the colonel's kindness? Does war mean people on opposing sides have to hate one another? Why or why not?