It’s Germany, 1939, six months after the Kristallnacht attacks on the Jews, but life for 11-year old Georg is full of promise under the Führer—until his father, an English university professor, is killed by a group of pro- Nazi students on suspicion of being Jewish. Fearing for her son’s safety, Georg’s German mother arranges for him to be smuggled into England to stay with his father’s unmarried sister, his Aunt Miriam, whose work at the war office means Georg spends long hours on his own, listening to the radio, reading newspapers and learning to perfect his English accent. London, however, is being heavily bombed, and when Aunt Miriam’s office is transferred to the country, she decides to send Georg to Australia to be placed in foster care. For Georg, now known as George, life could not be more different as he is taken in by a kindly elderly couple living in country NSW. But tragedy strikes again, and this time Georg feels he can no longer keep silent about his true identity. Jackie French’s research and subsequent feeling for the era is superb (the descriptions of wartime Australia alone are fascinating). This is historical fiction at its best, and thoroughly recommended for upper primary children and beyond.
Hilary Adams is a bookseller and has written about the importance of historical fiction for children. This review first appeared in the Junior Term 1 supplement of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.