Saturday, July 30, 2005

Fave Children's Books

Althouse is dicussing her favorite children's books. An interesting question and one that I find difficult to answer. I was an avid reader as a kid, as I am now, and I enjoy rereading the books that I used to love. I have recently reread all the Rohald Dahl books and have plans to reread the Chronicles of Narnia. But thinking back, I think the book that really had an effect on me and made me think was Summer of My German Soldier.
The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she's Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.

In Anton, Patty finds someone who softens the pain of her own father's rejection and who appreciates her in a way her mother never will. While patriotic feelings run high, Patty risks losing family, friends — even her freedom — for this dangerous friendship. It is a risk she has to take and one she will have to pay a price to keep.

I remember laying in bed at night and reading this book. Feeling so sorry for Patty because her father is so cruel to her, and admiring the courage she had to live through his treatment. And the courage it took to befriend Anton. I felt esp drawn to the story as my father is German and moved to the US after his father died serving in the German army during WWII. I was impressed by the sympathetic portrait of Anton. It is so easy to demonize the German soldiers since the Nazis did such horrible things, but it should be remembered that not all the soldiers believed in Hitler's vision. Many were forced to fight or had no other means of making money in the depression that followed WWI.


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