Sunday 10 June 2012

162. Pennies For Hitler by Jackie French

Pennies For Hitler by Jackie French
Published June 2102 Harper Collins

From the publisher:
It′s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils′ heads to see which of them have the most ′Aryan′- shaped heads. But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive.
Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too.
The companion piece to HITLER′S DAUGHTER, PENNIES FOR HITLER examines the life of a child during World War 2, from a different perspective.

Once again Jackie French gives us a highly readable historical novel, this time looking at life during WW2.  Already this year I have read  one book set in the concentration camps (The Wrong Boy) and one about child evacuee's (The Children of the King), this is slightly different take on WW2, as Georg is German boy, who has a British Father and Jewish Grandparents.  In the eyes of the Nazi's,  Georg would be considered the enemy, but Germany is the only home he has known, and now for his own safety, he is forced to leave.

Georg is such a sweet strong character that my heart just breaks for him.  First he has to leave his Mother (his Father already dead), he is put into a suitcase to be carried to France, where he then must journey to England to meet an Aunt he doesn't know.  In England he leads an isolated existence because no one is to find out that he is German, so he spends his time learning to speak better English.  Just as he begins to feel at home, London is bombed and he is to be sent as an evacuee to Australia.  Alone again, he journeys across the sea to start a new life, in a new country, with a new family.  The family he ends up with is wonderful, the Peaslake's, whose own son is away at war.  He loves the country town he lives in, loves the Peaslake's and loves his 'cousin' Mud who lives next door, but the whole time he is there Georg, now George, knows he is living a lie.  His feelings about Germany and Hitler begin to change and he starts to question everything he has known.  Not only is he going through all of this alone, he is also keeping his own identity hidden. He is terrified that if people find out he's German he will get put in a prison camp.  

As with other Jackie French titles, she has a great deal of additional information in the back of the book.  This information gives a little more historical background to the events that occur in the story.  As with nearly all of her books I find out snippets of history that I didn't know before, such as Japanese spotter planes flying along the coast of NSW, a fact that was only made public many years after the war.

While not technically a sequel to Hitler's Daughter, this book is marketed as a companion novel. The two books working together, as you get two very different perspectives of the same moments in history.

Who will like this book: Girls and boys age 10+
Read it if you like: Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French

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