The story of a Jewish family escaping Hitler's assault on Jews in 1938 Austria, The Night Crossing focuses on a little girl named Clara who must leave her native land to travel to a new country.
Like her grandmother before her who, as a child, fled the Russian persecution of Jews, Clara must flee for her life. She takes with her the same two dolls, Gittel and Lotte, that Grandmother carried over the mountains from Russia to Austria, the dolls that Grandmother had given to her.
The family's trip is fraught with danger and close calls. But, in the end, they reach their destination in safety. During the journey, Clara learns the meaning of courage in the fight for freedom.
What I Like: The Night Crossing captures the reader's interest from the start and maintains it throughout the story. Children will be exposed to the evils of Nazism and will learn about the evils of the Holocaust. No revisionist history here! While the book is not overtly Christian, it certainly reflects the Christian principles of the value of human life and the value of freedom. The black-and-white illustrations by Elizabeth Sayles serve to capture the emotions of the characters on their journey to freedom. The drawings are strategically placed and are highly effective in enhancing the story.
What I Dislike: There is an instance of head-hopping--that is, jumping from the viewpoint of one character to another in the same scene--that, for me, disrupted the fictive dream.
Overall Rating: Excellent
Age Appeal: 7-11 year-olds. Also, reluctant older readers.
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