Without realising it I had enjoyed Judith Kerr’s work on many occasions especially with her children’s books about Mog the cat. I was listening to a book podcast and Judith Kerr was guest speaking about When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and as soon as it was over I wanted to read this book. It was so interesting to hear her talk about this book as it was based on events in her life as she was growing up.
This book follows the life of Anna, a young girl growing up during the time of the Second World War. Her family are forced to move to Switzerland, closely followed by France and finally England as they try to find a place to live and work. I found this book particularly intriguing as it focused on the children’s lives and how they saw each country unfold and the current political stance as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power. It was refreshing to see through a child’s eye which is innocent and at the same time optimistic despite the situation surrounding them.
Anna was a great protagonist in the novel because of her age, as the plot developed she got older and her view on the world and those around her changed. Her family are forced to flee as they are Jewish and her father in particular is a writer who openly criticises the Nazi party, Anna however didn’t know she was Jewish as her family don’t follow the customs. Anti-Semitism is introduced in the book in different ways such as Anna and her brother not being allowed to play with two children from Germany because of their religion. There is also a passing comment about how Anna is supposed to have a bent nose but her nose looks ‘quite normal’. The entire novel is portrayed through Anna and events around her so her view on every event has a different perception compared to that of her parents yet it makes the novel enjoyable and easy to follow. I particularly enjoyed it because I know a lot about Nazi Germany but seeing what life was like for a child and in neighbouring countries like Switzerland and France gave me a new image of life at that time.
Although this is marketed more as a children’s book I would recommend it to readers of all ages, it is just an all-round lovely read. It’s not too long and it didn’t take me long to read it, the chapters are short and flow into one another. The book is written really well as the plot is constantly developing and moving at a good speed. I was enjoying the book so much that I didn’t realise it had ended when it did. Without giving away too much the book ends in England quite abruptly, however I think this signifies the start of Judith Kerr’s life in the UK, almost like a ‘the rest was history’ type ending as we know from here she went on to become a successful writer like her father.
I gave this book a 5 out of 5 stars on goodreads, ever since I finished it I have been in a book hangover and constantly been thinking about it. I can definitely see it as a book I will come back to and read again in the future.