Welcome to this month’s instalment of ‘Old Favourites’, in which a guest blogger writes a review of a beloved children’s book. This month we’ve got Beth from Plastic Rosaries, a great book lover and freelance writer. She had trouble choosing a favourite, she said, so we may well be hearing more from her in the coming months reviewing her second and third choices!
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr
I have hundreds of favourite children’s books. Hundreds isn’t even an exaggeration but there are some I could still read now and love in exactly the same way and feel exactly the same thing – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is one of them.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is very close to Judith Kerr’s autobiography as it plots the stories of Anna, Max and there family as they have to leave their home in Germany due to being Jewish in the run up to the Second World War. Like Kerr herself, Anna and Max’s father is high on Hitler’s ‘hit list’ and they simply have to move. The move takes place and as they’re packing up all their worldly belongings they have to make some pretty rash decisions when it comes to their toys.
Choosing between toys may seem like no kind of horror but when you’re so very young and everything is about to change it’s a big deal and it’s in this initial decision that the title of the novel comes. As the excerpt below shows, Anna chooses a brand new monkey toy instead of her beloved Pink Rabbit:
Now the first time I read this book I thought very little of this but every other time I’ve wanted to dramatically shout “Anna NO!” as nothing will ever be the same for them and there never is an occasion to return for Pink Rabbit. Within a few pages Anna realises as much:
This is a novel that even had 10 year old me nearly in tears. No one wants to think of Hitler playing with their beloved toys and it’s a very powerful way of expressing the horrors of war for younger children. It’s beautifully written and illustrated too and even though they’re uprooted time and again Anna and Max find moments of humour and enjoyment in all their homes.
Judith Kerr is an author you can enjoy from the day you’re born. The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog are firm favourites with younger children and then you can move onto When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and get some real insight into how wonderful Kerr is as an author as well as an illustrator. It takes real skill to live through such testing times and come out the other side with a story to tell and the eloquence to be able to tell it.
A beautiful beautiful book that I have read time and time again!