This harrowing sequel to Once picks up the story of 10-year-old Felix and six-year-old Zelda after their leap from a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp. Once again, Gleitzman captures horrors through the lens of childhood: a mass grave of orphans who have been shot; the bodies of Germans who helped Jews, hanging in the town square; the cruelty of Nazi soldiers taking farmers' animals and livelihoods. Courage and kindness combat these evils as caring adults and sympathetic strangers find ways to shelter, provide for, and protect the children despite obvious risks. Felix continues to use his storytelling skills for survival: inspired by novelist Richmal Crompton, to whom he prays for guidance and protection, Felix constructs alternate identities for himself and Zelda, which allow them to hide in public, for a time. Both children seek to protect each other with a locket showing Zelda's Nazi parents, each secretly putting it back in the other's possession. In a conclusion both devastating and hopeful, the innocence and maturity of Felix's narrative voice conveys human resilience when faced with the impossible. Ages 12–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011 Release date: 05/01/2011 Genre: Children's
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