The following article comes from primary consultant Kate Heap, who shares an insightful book review.
After the War is the book every teacher of the Holocaust needs. This carefully researched and accurate retelling of the horrors and hopes of the Second World War pulls readers in to the reality faced by three brave Polish Jewish boys who find themselves in the serene beauty of the Lake District in the days following the war. Their peaceful surroundings are miles away from the grey, painful concentration camp where they spent many years. On the Calgarth Estate, they have the chance to rebuild their lives, growing stronger in both body and mind. The kindness of the people of Lake Windermere gives the boys a new sense of family and teaches them that there is good in the world.
This is a story of compassion and welcome, of finding peace and belonging. Fear of the unknown has become ingrained in Yossi, Leo and Mordecai. They struggle to trust and struggle to understand that they are now safe with enough food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in. Gradually, day by day, they learn that the horrors of their past are over but the loss they’ve suffered is real – loss of childhood, loss of loved ones, loss of strength and loss of trust. The task of rebuilding their lives will take time but it is possible.
Using the power of memories, Tom Palmer cleverly moves this story between the boys’ new life in Cumbria and the struggles of Auschwitz. Each new experience triggers painful memories that pull them back as they strive to step towards a different future. Yossi, Leo and Mordecai are united in loss and a shared experience. Together they are determined to build a new, positive life and discover who they truly are – who they are meant to be.
As we move forward from the 75th anniversary of VE Day, this is a story that must be told. It is a truth that our children must hear and understand to prevent the atrocities of the past from occurring again. Tom Palmer shows readers that there is evil in the world but there is also so much goodness.
After the War is an incredibly important book for our generation of children. It is accessible and engaging without losing any of the impact of the lessons of truth and hope. With Barrington Stoke’s skilled touch, the dyslexia-friendly font, layout, spacing and page tint means everyone can share in this powerful story.
Children and adults alike will quickly find themselves a part of the Windermere Boys’ story. The honesty and emotion of their experience leaps off the page, lodging itself in the reader’s mind forever. This is a story to read again and again, picking up new details and a deeper understanding every time. Yossi, Leo and Mordecai become heroes and we want nothing more than for them to fly.
Thank you to Barrington Stoke for this incredible book!
Lest we forget.