A compelling new story about a time rarely exposed to middle grade readers: Germany in 1938. What to expect (From Barnes & Noble):
Emil Rosen and Friedrich Weber couldn’t have less in common, but in the summer of 1938, they must both deal with the changes steamrolling through Germany. Friedrich struggles with an uncle in jail and a cruel Hitler Youth leader, while Emil does his best to avoid the blistering anti-Semitism that’s threatening his family. As the rules of yesterday no longer make sense, both boys find comfort at a private spot along the Leine River. Then in the late hours of November 9th, their world explodes, and the two boys are forced together in a race against time that requires Friedrich to risk his life in order to save Emil and his family.
PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 248
MY THOUGHTS: The gripping story unfolds in 28 chapters and the third person viewpoint alternates back and forth from Friedrich to Emil. It’s the perfect way to relay their fears. Other characters interact with the boys in different ways and doing so provides a powerful building of their inner conflict.
The events of the time drive the story, but Emil and Friedrich make it come alive. The many thematic layers grab hold, and you won’t want to put the book down. These include hateful bullying tactics, loyalty to family, governmental rights, and the meaning of friendship.
Hate among Nazis, Jews, and Communists in 1938 led to terrible results. It’s sad to think 81 years has passed, and our ability to get along has progressed very little. Here’s hoping our young people will grasp the ideas put forth here and lead a life without hate.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT
CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan
- The tension and inner turmoil for each boy and their families are a continuous thread. You’ll feel each emotion as they do what’s best for the ones they love.
- Friedrich, under the guidance of a hateful youth leader, has to make the toughest decisions. His eyebrow twitch was a marvelous foreboding that he’s not happy with the choice of hurting others.
- Emil is rather immature but has a sweet disposition. It takes time for him to grip they whys of his world. His tears said it all that their is often no easy answer.
- Many questions will surface from young readers and provide opportunity for discussion. A thorough discussion guide is included in the back pages.
- The author did extensive research and her Author’s Note detailing the journey to publication is a must read.
It’s over! Friedrich thought. Service hours are finally over! He stood to leave.
“And for the last item,” Günter began, but stopped when he spotted Friedrich. Every eye in the room burned into him, the only one standing. His skin prickled. Dread and shame mashed up in his gut. The room swayed. His private demons had betrayed him after all.
Muddy Hell! Friedrich thought. I am next!
About Jennifer Voigt Kaplan (From Jennifer’s Author Web site):
Jennifer Voigt Kaplan is an award-winning author of children’s fiction. Her debut children’s novel, Crushing the Red Flowers, was recognized in six literary contests before its publication, including earning a Letter of Merit for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant and winning the middle-grade category of Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize for Fiction. Jennifer was born in Germany, raised in Philadelphia, and now resides in the New York City area. She holds degrees from the Wharton School of Business in marketing and from the London School of Economics in social psychology.
Outside of writing, Jennifer founded The Public Arts Council, her town’s first organization dedicated to public arts. When she’s not inventing people in her head, she’s painting murals on underpasses, wishing she had more time to watch sci-fi movies, and arguing that there should be no limit on the number of garden gnomes that are considered socially acceptable. She lives with her husband, three children, and a cheeky beta-fish named Bubbles, who thinks it’s hilarious to play dead.
I received a copy of the book for my honest review.
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