A Time to Be Brave

Joan Bet­ty Stuch­n­er; Cyn­thia Nugent, illus.
  • Review
By – June 16, 2015

It is Copen­hagen, Den­mark, April, 1940 and the Nazis have just invad­ed the city. David, the son of a bak­er, is eight years old. He sees Nazi sol­diers as they strut around the city exert­ing their pow­er and is told by his father that he should nev­er talk about the Allies or men­tion the war. 

One day, unaware of the impor­tance of an errand his father asks him to do, David car­ries a box of éclairs to a cus­tomer. He is stopped by two Nazi sol­diers who eat two of the pas­tries. For­tu­nate­ly, they do not eat the one that has a piece of paper in it with train sched­ules. This is infor­ma­tion that allows the Resis­tance to suc­cess­ful­ly bomb the tracks where sup­plies are being trans­ferred to Ger­many and deliv­er­ing it is David’s spe­cial errand. Sub­se­quent­ly, a Nazi offi­cer vis­its his class­room and reminds every­one that it is a seri­ous offense to harm any sol­dier of the Reich”. David has to force him­self not to flinch.” 

Lat­er, it is 1943, Erev Rosh Hashanah and the rab­bi tells the con­gre­ga­tion they must escape imme­di­ate­ly as tonight is the night the Nazis plan to round up all the Jews. With the table set for the spe­cial hol­i­day meal, David’s fam­i­ly leaves. Aid­ed by their non-Jew­ish neigh­bors, they take a boat to Swe­den. Only David’s sis­ter who is a mem­ber of the Resis­tance is unable to join them. 

This book is under­stat­ed but pow­er­ful, a gen­tle intro­duc­tion to the Holo­caust. It does not have graph­ic descrip­tions of hor­rors and tor­ture, but con­veys the seri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion in vignettes and draw­ings suit­able for younger students. 

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished as Hon­ey Cake in 2007, this book has an easy read­ing for­mat. It includes an after­word with his­tor­i­cal back­ground, a recipe for the hon­ey cake fea­tured in the sto­ry, a map, a time­line of World War II, and addi­tion­al his­tor­i­cal mate­r­i­al to add detail to some of the events in the sto­ry. Recom­mended for ages 8 – 11.

Marge Kaplan is a retired Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage teacher. She is a con­sul­tant for the children’s lit­er­a­ture group for the Roseville, MN school sys­tem and is a sto­ry­teller of Jew­ish tales.

Discussion Questions