Today's book is the first in a three-part series entitled "The Young Refugees." I will discuss books 2 and 3 in posts soon.
Title: Escape to Liechtenstein
Author: Ed Dunlop
Target Audience: ages 9-12
Reading level: approximately fifth grade
148 pages, plus a short glossary of German terms used
Gretchen, a nine-year-old Austrian girl
Hans, a twelve-year-old Austrian boy
Jacob, a thirteen-year-old Jewish fugitive
Summary: The story is set during World War II, summer and fall of 1942. Austria has been taken over by Germany, and the small village where Gretchen and Hans live has been attacked, leaving the children alone after their mother's death and their father being taken into the German army. When soldiers storm the village, searching house by house for a young boy, the children have no idea that the fugitive is hiding in their barn. The soldiers leave, not finding their prey, and Hans and Gretchen discover Jacob. They agree to let Jacob hide in their barn overnight and share their small supply of food with him, learning that he is the one that the German soldiers are searching for, and he is heading for Liechtenstein, a neutral country that borders Austria. They agree to accompany Jacob, although he protests at first. The three children face a long, dangerous journey, with little help and many enemies. Why does it seem like the entire German army is looking for Jacob? And with dangers everywhere they turn, can they possibly make it to safety?
Review: Several German terms are used, but a glossary is included in the back for definitions. The basic idea of the word can often be determined from context ("a steaming bowl of gulyassuppe . . . and a single slice of ankerbrot" -- possibly soup or stew, since it's hot, but it's morning, so it could be something like oatmeal, and a slice of bread, maybe? look in the glossary and find that gulyassuppe is a Hungarian soup and ankerbrot is an Austian bread), and all of the German words are in italics for easy identification. The book clearly shows God's protection and providence as the children go through many trials heading for the Liechtenstein border. There is some violence in the form of guns, land mines, and fists, but it is contextual (it is a war, after all) and it is not too graphic. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book each time I have read it.
***** Five stars