Based on true-life events during the Second World War Hitler's Canary is a funny, and gripping account of a childhood spent under occupation and a daring rescue.
Following a first-class degree from Cambridge, Sandi Toksvig went into the theatre, where she both wrote and performed before becoming one of the founder members of the Comedy Store Players. She is well known for her television and radio work, as a presenter, writer and actor. She has written four books for children including Unusual Day, published by Young Corgi in 1996.
Gr 5-7-When Nazi invasion brings a restrictive dictatorship to the fair and free-thinking Danes, Bamse's theatrical family chooses to ignore the increasingly dangerous circumstances in the hope that their gentile family and thespian lifestyle will not be affected. Older brother Orlando sees the writing on the wall and joins the Resistance while Uncle Johann sides with the Nazi sympathizers, hoping for survival through cooperation. Caught in a cage between the British and German fighting, Denmark is dubbed "Hitler's Canary." The increasing number of arrests and likely deportation of all Danish Jews force the Skovlunds to come to terms with reality. Bamse and his Jewish friend Anton begin to work secretly alongside Orlando until Anton's family is forced into hiding. Bamse's political-cartoonist father loses his job and his famous stage-actress mother makes good use of her acting talent to create an effective diversion for the Gestapo searching their home. Through the voice of 12-year-old Bamse, Toksvig mixes in a sardonic humor that adds spice and comic relief to a story about a very perilous and frightening time. Drawing on real events and the experiences of her family, she re-creates an episode in history when many citizens willingly put their lives at risk to participate in the 10-day rescue of the Danish Jews during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays of 1943. In total, close to 7200 Jews and 689 non-Jews escaped to Sweden. Readable, intriguing, and realistic, with a good epilogue and author's note appended.-Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
In this insightful novel, Toksvig offers a unique glimpse of WWII, writing from the perspective of a 10-year-old Danish boy forced to grow up quickly. Bamse, the son of a famous stage actress and a talented set designer, has "lived in a make-believe world" until the spring of 1940 when Germany invades his country. In Copenhagen, Nazi soldiers now rule the streets, and native Danes begin to fear for their safety. Some, like Bamse's mother and father, try to keep a low profile in order to keep their loved ones safe. Others, like the boy's 16-year-old brother, refuse to act like "Hitler's Canary," and wish to take a stand against the invaders. When rumors spread that Jews are being taken from their homes, Bamse's entire family takes part in a resistance movement, hiding Jewish friends and later helping them escape. Based on true stories handed down to the author by her father, Toksvis's tale of courage in the face of tyranny sheds light on the difficult choices facing the Danish people and pays tribute to resisters (including some compassionate Germans), who make enormous sacrifices in order to save others' lives. Through the boy's narrative, readers witness his loss of innocence ("I knew my Danish history from school: for the first time in nine hundred years my homeland... was not free and independent"). The author thus brings to life the tensions in Denmark at a time when "it wasn't always easy to tell the difference" between the "good" and "bad" people. Ages 11-up. (Mar.) Agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
There are not many classic children's novels about the Second World
War but this is one of them. Toksvig's enchanting and inspiring
tale reminds us of how even the smallest people made a difference
-- Amanda Craig * The Times *
There are several heart-stopping moments but overall the story is told with a light touch and many moments of humour * The Bookseller *
On the evidence of this warm and enlightening tale, Sandi Toksvig is as skilled at writing for children as she is for adults . . . Toksvig manages to lace the action with plenty of humour but without trivialising the momentous events * Waterstone's Books Quarterly *
A must-read for any pupil studying World War II and any pupil looking for a truly remarkable "real-life" story to inspire and delight * Teaching & Learning *
A suspenseful, humane story -- Nicolette Jones * The Sunday Times *