A compelling new story about a time rarely exposed to middle grade readers: Germany in 1938. What to expect (From Barnes & Noble):

9781632460950_p0_v2_s550x406.jpgEmil 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.



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.


CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Many questions will surface from young readers and provide opportunity for discussion. A thorough discussion guide is included in the back pages.
  5. 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.

Comment below if you have time!


If you missed my post this past Wednesday I’m doing a Giveaway of a new National Geographic title: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN. All the details are here as to how to win a hardback copy of this beautiful new book.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Thanks for your insightful review about this book. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it will definitely make its way onto The Children’s War as soon as I can get a copy.

  2. Natalie Aguirre says:

    Sounds like a powerful read. And yes, it’s very sad that we haven’t come very far in getting along and not hating people because of their race or nationality.

  3. Joanne Fritz says:

    This is so true, Greg: “It’s sad to think 81 years has passed, and our ability to get along has progressed very little.” Exactly! The world today can be a scary place.

    I hadn’t heard of this book, so thank you for bringing it to my attention. This should be perfect for classroom discussion, especially with the thorough discussion guide.

  4. Wow! I never tire of reading the remarkable stories of people doing what they could to help! This story is going on my list as it sounds like a powerful read! Like the story is told in alternating voices, as it sounds like it works very well! Great choice!

  5. I love it when the author does his/her homework. Sometimes, I’m half-way through the book and want to check if there’s an author’s note. But I always refrain from reading it until I’m finished the book (in case of spoilers!).

  6. Oh, my goodness — this sounds like a powerful story that readers of all ages should experience. I like the cover art and the title, too. Thank you for posting about this book for MMGM, Greg.

  7. Wow. This book sounds amazing. I will definitley be looking for this one. Thanks for a great review.

  8. Pingback: The 2019 Golden Cup Awards | Always in the Middle…

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