When life in Germany become increasingly dangerous for Jews, Anna’s parents manage to get her onto one of the trains leaving for England as part of the Kindertransport. Fortunate enough to find herself welcomed by her foster family, Anna begins to build a new life for herself in Kent. However, the war is never far away and Anna finds herself caught up in a dangerous plot when she decides actions speak louder than words to show whose side she is really on.
This is just the best read! Sadly, it came too late to be put forward for this year’s awards, but it is right up there with those we have chosen for our Quality Fiction list. Helen’s writing is compelling and deeply moving as she tells Anna’s story with great skill and empathy.
The book starts with Daniel’s teacher asking his class whether they know of anyone who lived through the Second World War. As Daniels tells them his granny came over just before the war started, he suddenly realises how little he knows about her life and decides to ask her about it. The story is then told through Anna’s memories. Without saying anything, this special book reminds us all of the importance of valuing the lives and memories of other generations, encouraging children and grandchildren to ask questions about the past.
Anna’s memories start on Kristallnacht when her world is torn apart by Nazi storm troopers destroying her home and taking her father away. The closeness of her family and her parents’ desperation to save their daughter are vividly portrayed, leading to their decision to send her to England on the Kindertransport.
An amazing character, the reader begins to learn of Anna’s strength of character as she helps others, even finding herself in charge of a baby. The writing here skilfully shows Anna’s fear and anxieties, yet her curiosity as she faces the unknown. Her intelligence and resourceful nature are also clearly shown.
Anna quickly adapts to her life in England, but there are ups and downs along the way as she encounters prejudice and mis-understanding as well as great kindness. There are wonderful descriptions of life in rural England at this time as well as details about war time living. The excitement builds as the children find a wounded soldier and all her determination and resolve are once again put to the test.
Not everyone has a happy ending in this story- how could they?- but the final chapter is beautiful, satisfying and poignant. This is such a wonderful book with strong messages about being kind, offering understanding and compassion and is a must for libraries and classrooms.
A moving wartime adventure, ‘Anna at War’ is set to be a modern classic.
Anna at War Helen Peters
Nosy Crow ISBN: 978- 1788004718