It follows the story of two young Jewish children: refugees who came from Berlin to England on the Kindertransport after their family have been persecuted for being Jewish.
Geras, captures the fears and anxieties the two children experience whilst travelling alone on their long journey and how they acclimatize to life in a different country. During the few short months Clara and Maxi are living with their English family, they encounter preconceived stereotypical beliefs about them being Jewish and German and readers are invited to empathise with Clara as she deals with the comments made by her English hostess' best friend.
The book is truthfully grounded in historical fact and children will be able to research the events that are referred to in the novel, in particular how the Kindertransport brought almost 10 000 refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1940. Another historical fact that will need to be researched is the concentration camp at Dachau, as Clara and Maxi's father has been taken there. For these reasons the book would make an excellent text to read for any class studying World War II.
Likewise, readers will learn about the Jewish religion. As we read we learn about the festival of Hannukah and the importance and significance of the Menorah.
The book is relatively short, only 78 pages long and organised into 8 short chapters. Each chapter is set during a specific date between 9th November 1938 and 20th December 1938. This makes the book ideal for guided reading. In addition to developing their comprehension skills, the book is a good stimulus for developing different types of writing. Chapters could be re-presented as diary accounts written in the first person from either Clara or Maxi's point of view: they could also be presented as newspaper articles, particularly chapter 3 which recounts the Kindertransport journey. In chapter 4, Clara writes a letter home to her mother and again this provides a model and a stimulus for pupils to compose their own letters.
Publisher : A & C Black
Publication Date: 1995