Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hitler's Canary by Sandi Toksvig

Having gone through a phase of reading only tween gothic fiction, I have now moved on to tear-jerking WW2 novels.  This has been somewhat accidental - my purchase of Hitler's Canary by Sandi Toksvig came about as a direct result of the BOGOF in Oxfam the other day.  I had vaguely heard someone recommending it once, and so decided that, since it was free, and Sandi Toksvig always makes me laugh on the radio, it was worth a shot.

What a brilliant book.  Before this year, I had absolutely no idea of the role of Lithuania or Denmark in the Second World War, despite having studied this period of history a lot at school.  Hitler's Canary is the story of Bamse, the ten-year old son of an actor and cartoonist; a happy middle-class family in Copenhagen.  It tells the story of how ordinary Danish families helped over 7,000 Jews to escape the concentration camps to find freedom in Sweden.  It also makes the crucial point that some Germans did extremely good things, and some Danes did extremely cruel things.  It is the story of human nature, good and bad, and the difference that a few good people can make.  Brilliant for age 9/10+.

Lots of books make me cry, but there were LOTS of tears at the end of this one.  This book educates the reader, but through a story, not in a history-shoehorned-into-novel kind of way.  It's all about the characters.  But then, isn't life all about the characters?

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