This non-fiction book is a unique collection of real-life accounts from individuals who as children were sheltered during the Nazi era in the mountains of Southern France in a town called Le Chambon. This work is quite admirable, as individuals interviewed recall their experiences in journal form. The stories attest to the heartbreak and the realistic dangers of the times, but provide an added sense of hope and an appreciation for those who rose up against evil. Each entry is followed with an epilogue that gives the reader the satisfaction of knowing what has become of each child. The stories are not without pain and great loss, but what shines through is the righteousness of the citizens of La Chambon. The Jewish children who were sent to La Chambon, a Protestant community, were separated from their parents. In the face of trauma, the children were warmly welcomed into their new community. The children attended school, worked on farms, and participated in activities with other children. The uniqueness of La Chambon was in the sense of duty the entire community had in protecting the Jewish children. Many of the individuals discuss their Judaism, including the struggle to make sense of their religious identity. The “Note to Readers” in the beginning of the book, clearly details the research process and the care taken by the authors to share these stories with authenticity. The authors’ passion for the project is felt throughout the book. For ages 11 – 16.
Barbara Bietz is a freelance writer and children’s book reviewer. She is currently a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Barbara is the author of the middle grade book, Like a Maccabee. She has a blog dedicated to Jewish books for children at www.BarbaraBBookBlog.Blogspot.com.