The bombs were falling and the smoke rising from the concentration camps, but all Hitler's daughter knew was the world of lessons with Fraulein Gelber and the hedgehogs she rescued from the cold. Was it just a story or did Hitler's daughter really exist? And if you were Hitler's daughter, would all the horror that occurred be your fault, too? Do things that happened a long time ago still matter?
First published in 1999, Hitler's Daughter has sold over 100,000 copies in Australia alone and has received great critical acclaim, both in Australia and the twelve countries where it has been published. Hitler's Daughter has also won or been shortlisted for 23 awards, both in Australia and internationally, including winner of the 2000 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Younger Readers.
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Jackie French's writing career spans 15 years, 39 wombats, 120 books, 15 languages, and 28 shredded doormats (she blames the wombats). She is the author of Hitler's Daughter, which won the 2000 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award, and Diary of a Wombat, a 2003 Children's Book Council of Australia Honour Book. She lives in Australia.From School Library Journal:
Grade 4-6-In order to amuse themselves while waiting for the school bus, a group of contemporary Australian children encourage their friend Anna to tell a story. "She always added details so you saw the story in your mind." But this time, the story has real characters in it. Anna imagines that Hitler had a daughter whom he kept hidden, because of a large birthmark on her face and a lame leg. Heidi, the imaginary child, leads a protected life during World War II with her governess. As the days go by, the story grows in power for 10-year-old Mark. He begins to wonder what it must have been like to have an evil father like Hitler, and he begins to question his own parents and the fact that they live on land that was originally occupied by Aborigines. The two stories proceed in tandem at an uneven pace. Heidi is the most interesting character. Mark is the only contemporary character developed in any depth, but his growing conflict with his parents and the ethical issues tossed up by the story are cut short and don't lead anywhere. For most of the book, it isn't clear how Anna knows enough to tell Heidi's story, complete with details of Berchtesgaden and Hitler's bunker. The answer to this question comes at the end. While affecting, it is also a letdown. The implication is that Anna's grandmother, who told her the story, was, or could have been, Hitler's daughter. While it is based on an interesting idea and could be used as a discussion starter, this novel is ultimately unsatisfying.
Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
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