Soon by Morris Gleitzman is well deserved the nomination for Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week Award for Younger Readers. This whole series about children trying to survive the holocaust has torn my heart and I highly recommend that everyone gets their hands on these books and experience the innocence and horror of children in war.
When we left young Felix in the fourth book, After, World War Two was coming to an end and he had lost a lot. Continuing the story in Soon the war is over but danger still lingers. In Soon, the Soviet Red Army has pushed out Nazi German forces from occupied Poland, and Gleitzman gives us glimpses into this period of social unrest.
These books can be used to broach the subject of war, Holocaust, death, persecution and prejudice with very young children. Written with early readers in mind this ‘family’ of books is an easy read but students with knowledge of the holocaust will benefit most and younger readers will need guidance as there are, understandably, some horrific graphic scenes. The very first book, Once, almost broke me; when 9 year old Felix was scavenging for food and water he found a baby, dead in the highchair. And there are more horrific themes in Soon such as child rape, so teachers and parents may want read these books first and be prepared for questions.
Gleitzman is sensitive to survivors of the holocaust and here I quote from his website: “This story is my imagination trying to grasp the unimaginable. Their stories are the real stories.” http://www.morrisgleitzman.com/ And he provides a list of recommended reads. Gleitzman’s books and many more may be found on the shelf at your library or online as ebooks and eaudio.