The Lily Pond

Anni­ka Thor; Lin­da Schenck, trans.
  • Review
By – January 10, 2012
The sto­ry of Stepha­ni­eStein­er, a thir­teen-year-old Jew­ish girl who left her par­ents in Nazi-occu­pied Ger­many and went on the Kinder­trans­port to live with a fos­ter fam­i­ly on a remote island­off the coast Swe­den, con­tin­ues in this sequel to A Far­away Island(Dela­corte, 2009). Since there is onlyan ele­men­tary school on the island, Ste­phie suc­cess­ful­ly per­suades her fos­ter­par­ents to allow her to con­tin­ue her stud­ies by attend­ing school on the­main­land, in the city of Gote­borg. Shese­cures a schol­ar­ship and arranges to live with the fam­i­ly who had rent­ed her­fos­ter par­ents’ island cot­tage for the sum­mer. Excit­ed to live and study in a big, cul­tured city, Stephie’s hopes are­quick­ly damp­ened when she real­izes that she is treat­ed more like a board­er thanan adopt­ed daugh­ter. She has dif­fi­cul­ty­mak­ing friends at her new school, faces anti-Semi­tism and prej­u­dice from­class­mates, teach­ers, and even anoth­er Jew­ish stu­dent, and miss­es her younger­sis­ter, Nel­lie, who is still liv­ing on the island. At the same time, she is expe­ri­enc­ing her­first crush, on sev­en­teen-year-old Sven, and is anx­ious­ly await­ing news from her­par­ents who are still strand­ed in Vien­na. With­out white­wash­ing the war expe­ri­ence, Stephie’s sto­ry is eas­i­er todi­gest than oth­er Holo­caust fic­tion set in con­cen­tra­tion camps or ghet­tos, andit will help read­ers bet­ter under­stand the effects of the immi­gra­tion poli­ciesof Allied coun­tries like Swe­den that refused to grant visas to adul­tre­fugees. A smooth, straight­for­ward­trans­la­tion from Swedish, ful­ly devel­oped char­ac­ters and a ten­der, absorbingsto­ry make this a high­ly rec­om­mend­ed addi­tion to mid­dle-grade fic­tion­col­lec­tions. While the nov­el cer­tainly­stands on its own, read­ers should be direct­ed to A Far­away Island,win­ner of the 2010 Mil­dred L. Batchelder Award and a Syd­ney Tay­lor Hon­or Award.They will anx­ious­ly await the trans­la­tions of the third and fourth books in the­series. For ages 11 – 14.

Rachel Kamin has been a syn­a­gogue librar­i­an and Jew­ish edu­ca­tor for over twen­ty-five years and has worked at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, IL since 2008, cur­rent­ly serv­ing as the Direc­tor of Life­long Learn­ing. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee and past edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries News & Reviews, her arti­cles and book reviews appear in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions. She has been a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Library Association’s Sophie Brody Book Award Com­mit­tee since 2021.

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