Seek­ing Refuge

Irene N. Watts; Kathryn E. Shoe­mak­er, illus.
  • Review
By – December 14, 2017

Seek­ing Refuge by Irene N. Watts; Kathryn E. Shoe­mak­er, illus. | Jew­ish Book Coun­cil

Irene Watts has tak­en excerpts from her 2000 book Remem­ber Me to recre­ate the sto­ry of Mar­i­anne, a young girl escap­ing from the Nazis via the Kinder­trans­port, a pro­gram orga­nized to bring chil­dren out of Ger­many to new homes in Eng­land. While the sto­ry line is famil­iar, the for­mat is now in graph­ic nov­el style. The sketch­es are done in mut­ed blacks, grays, and whites, cap­tur­ing the sad­ness of being alone in a new country.

Mar­i­anne arrives in Lon­don and watch­es as every child she trav­eled with is paired with a new fam­i­ly. The last to leave, Mar­i­anne even­tu­al­ly finds a safe place to live, albeit not a very hap­py one. She miss­es every­thing about her old life, espe­cial­ly her moth­er. The new lady doesn’t seem to like Mar­i­anne and finds fault with every­thing the child does. When the threat of inva­sion reach­es Eng­land and all the chil­dren are evac­u­at­ed to the coun­try­side, Mar­i­anne is not sad to leave Lon­don behind her.

Shut­tled from one place to anoth­er, Mar­i­anne is final­ly tak­en in by a woman who calls her­self Aun­tie Vi. But this new home also has its draw­backs: Aun­tie Vi wants Mar­i­anne to take the place of her recent­ly-deceased daugh­ter, Eliz­a­beth — lit­er­al­ly. Things turn creepy, and Mar­i­anne hopes her moth­er will come to Eng­land soon and res­cue her.

This graph­ic nov­el is beau­ti­ful­ly exe­cut­ed. While the book touch­es on the Holo­caust, it ends on a hope­ful note. Rec­om­mend­ed for read­ers ages 9 to 12.

Mar­cia Ber­neger is a retired teacher who lives with her hus­band and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and sec­ond grade, as well as spe­cial edu­ca­tion. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Torah school, in addi­tion to her vol­un­teer work in class­rooms, libraries, and with var­i­ous fundrais­ers. She lives in San Diego.

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