Hitler's Canary Sandi Toksvig & Sandy Nightingale

Published by Yearling (ISBN: 978-0440866626)

Hitler's Canary is a beautifully written fictional story inspired by the real experiences of Sandi's

father, Bamse, during the First World War. The story tells of his experiences supporting the Danish resistance and the secret ten day evacuation of the Danish Jews in the autumn of 1943.

'The one condition necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'

The story opens a window on the experiences of the Danish people during the German occupation of their country. It recounts with detail the differing attitudes of the citizens, from apathy to anger and culminates in the uniting of a nation to liberate Jewish neighbours from their shipment to the Danish concentration camps.

Hitler's Canary certainly belongs alongside the many children's classics about the Second World War, made even more compelling because it is based on real life events. Sandi's heart warming tale seamlessly mixes the events of simple war time family life with the more dramatic events of surviving, resisting and escaping a war time occupation. Sometimes there is humour, at others suspense and danger but always the story telling is driven by a need to demonstrate the effect one person can have when they choose to stand up for what is right.

The classroom inspired uses for this text are endless. From journals of Bamse and his best friend, Anton and their lives under German occupation, to recording class family history stories of experiences during the war. The cross curricular uses of this text are obvious too - historical experiences of resistance to occupation during the war in particular in Danish history, the geography of the evacuation of the Jews to neighbouring countries and the holocaust.

A moving story, with the appropriate balance of humour. This is a must for an upper KS2 teacher’s bookshelf.