Peter’s War: A Boy’s True Story of Survival in World War II Europe

Holiday House. Mar. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823424160.
Gr 3-6–Peter Feigl, a German Jewish boy separated from his parents during World War II, fled from country to country to evade capture by the Nazis. This brief recounting is based on his personal diaries and interviews with the authors. Despite a thoroughly researched topic, there are several writing and formatting flaws that make this an imperfect package. The story itself is often so abbreviated that it fails to capture an appropriate sense of action or emotion. For example, “Peter’s father was temporarily released from a prison camp because he was very ill. When he joined them in Auch, Peter was thrilled, but he constantly worried that his father might be sent back.” The use of complex vocabulary assumes prior understanding and basic knowledge of topics such as European geography, religion, and chronology of the war, which is not provided. Words such as chancellor, Gestapo, baptized, strafing, and draconian are used without the aid of a glossary or pronunciation guide. Small images of Peter’s diaries, which miraculously survived and are housed in the National Holocaust Museum, are included, along with a virtual “scrapbook” of black-and-white photos of Peter, his parents, and classmates. Supplemental watercolor illustrations in muted earth tones soften the impact and urgency implied in the text.
VERDICT Despite writing and format imperfections, this is an important primary source story of a young refugee during World War II. Purchase where demand in this subject area is strong.

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