Monday, February 11, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Rescuing the Children: the Story of the Kindertransport by Deborah Hodge

Nonfiction Monday is a weekly meme in the Kidlitosphere that invites bloggers to read and review a nonfiction book on Monday as a way to promote high-quality nonfiction titles.  Each week, a different blogger "hosts" Nonfiction Monday and provides a roundup of all the posts.  This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Abby the Librarian!

Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport by Deborah Hodge

From December 1, 1938 - September 1, 1939 ten thousand Jewish children - some as young as 6 months old - boarded trains in countries throughout Nazi Europe, bound for freedom in London, England.  Their parents made the difficult decision to send their children away alone in hopes of a reunion as soon as Nazi restrictions on Jews came to an end.  At the time, no one could have predicted Hitler's final solution or the world war that would engulf Europe.  Still, it was the generosity of the United Kingdom and the Religious Society of Friends (aka Quakers), that saved thousands of children (and their future generations) were spared the horrors of the Holocaust.

We have a couple of books in our school library about the Kindertransport, including Olga Drucker's Kindertransport, which is probably the best-known book on this topic for children.  I've been meaning to read one of them (particularly Drucker's book) but just hadn't gone ahead and done it.  Then along came Rescuing the Children, with it's attractive cover* and short length, and I figured, "What the heck?"  If you're looking for an in-depth tome about the Kindertransport, this is not the book for you.  If, however, you're just looking for a solid introduction and understanding of what the Kindertransport was and how it worked, then this is a good choice.  Author Irene N. Watts, a child of the Kindertransport, provides a foreword that sets the stage.  Next, the reader is introduced to several more children who were part of the Kindertransport.  Then, the story of the events leading up to and including the Kindertransport, including Hitler's passage of laws to restrict the freedom of Jewish people and Kristallnacht are briefly described in 2 page spreads featuring quotes from the children and paintings by Hans Jackson, a Jew man who was able to escape Nazi Germany as a teenager.  "Words to Know," a map, timeline and index are also included.  Hodge's book does not go into great depth about the mechanics of transporting 10,000 children to freedom and what their lives were like once relocated.  With the entire book encompassing 60 pages, that wouldn't be possible.  Instead, she uses the pages to highlight the most important details and to share the individual reflections from a few survivors.  While some readers might be disappointed by this, I feel that it makes this the perfect "gateway" book to get a tween or teen interested in this less written about topic.  While it is imperative that the next generation learn about the horrors of the Holocaust, it is also vital that they understand that in all of the darkness of that time, there were individuals willing to take big risks to save the lives of others.  As Hodge repeats throughout the book, "Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."

*Yes, I judge books by their covers!  

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  1. A potential readalike to My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve, a (fictional) story of a kindertransport passenger that focuses on, as you say, "what their lives were like once relocated." My Family for the War is also this year's Batchelder medal winner for children's literature in translation (it was originally published in German, which is interesting in itself).

  2. Looks like a fine choice for this topic. I would love to read more about Kindertransport. Thanks for the review!