Her name was Heidi, and she was Hitler's daughter.
It began on a rainy morning in Australia, as part of a game played by Mark and his friends. It was a storytelling game, and the four friends took turns weaving tales about fairies and mermaids and horses. But Anna's story was different this time: It was not a fairy tale or an adventure story. The story was about a young girl who lived during World War II. Her name was Heidi, and she was Hitler's daughter.
As Anna's story unfolds, Mark is haunted by the image of Hitler's daughter. He wonders what he would have done in her place if he had known his father was an evil man leading the world into a war that was destroying millions of lives. And if Mark had known, would he have had the power and determination to stop him?
This intriguing novel poses powerful questions about a frightening period in history and will force readers to examine moral issues in a fresh, compelling light.
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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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