White Bird

Publisher: Penguin

Grandmère has told Julian her story before but now that he’s a teenager, he wants to hear more and to understand the details of what happened.

And so Grandmère recounts how her idyllic childhood in France was brutally torn from her, when the Nazis began to round up innocent Jews and deport them for forced labour or extermination. Left without her parents, she would not have survived but for the kindness, compassion and bravery of a family of strangers who were prepared to risk their own lives to keep her hidden and safe.

Presented as a beautifully illustrated graphic novel, whose creative use of darkness and light accentuates mood and dramatic events, this World War Two story is easy-to-read but definitely not a comfortable read.

Despite the overwhelming awfulness of the subject matter, the abiding message from Grandmère’s story is one of positivity: that humanity, kindness and courage can be powerful weapons in the face of hatred and persecution.

However, the book also sounds a warning that evil will flourish unless good people take positive steps to expose it and challenge it; a message that has direct relevance in today’s world.

A compelling and essential novel with wide appeal.

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