This book takes the reader through communist occupied East Berlin, West Berlin, and then to New York City about 12 years after WWII, all through the eyes of a boy who escapes through the wall and then immigrates to America. I learned so much about what it might have been like to live in these areas during this time period. My 12 yo son enjoyed it and my husband even read and enjoyed it. We had some interesting discussions about communism and about the trials that immigrants face when coming to a new place.
If you have a reader who is interested in WWII, this would be a great book for them. This book provides a good depth of history about East Germany and the Soviets within the framework of a story of bravery, courage, and loyalty. It is beautifully written and very uplifting.
I just finished pre-reading this in preparation for my 3rd grader’s history read-aloud. The story was interesting to me, and my son was transfixed by the first three chapters. He didn’t want me to stop reading because he was so interested in finding out if Hansi escapes from East Berlin to West Berlin. However, after the great escape sequence, I found myself frequently doubling back to try to understand why a character had behaved a certain way, or why they were feeling the way they were feeling. It just felt as though I had missed something, as though the author had understood some things about the characters that she had somehow failed to include in her actual writing. In my opinion, it’s not a bad book, and the story itself is very interesting, especially from a historical standpoint. The characters just need fleshed out a bit more.
My 11 year old loves WWII books and chose this book for us. I am glad she did, right from the beginning this book has you interested in Hansi’s experience in East and West Berlin post WWII It’s entertaining and educational. It made me think about my own freedoms and the importance of teaching them to our children.
We read this as a read-aloud. It is now my 10 year-olds favorite book! It is a great historical-fiction about communism, but it is also a great book to inspire Americans, and help us remember our freedoms and what we need to protect. The book does end in a way that feels like there could be a great sequel. We were a little disappointed that there wasn’t a sequel, but my son responded with: “I am going to write the sequel!”
Suddenly the sound of heavy footsteps drew nearer, coming up the stairs, tramp, tramp, tramp, nearer, strange and threatening. . . . The Russian police of East Berlin. Five of them!
When twelve-year-old Hansi’s father is arrested, his world is turned upside down. Why was his father taken away? Hansi discovers a past he didn’t know his family had, and soon after, he embarks on an adventure he never could have imagined—a daring trek to cross the great wall that divides East from West Berlin.
With the help of a small dog and some other friends he makes along the way, Hansi comes to realize that the things he’s been taught in post-World War II East Berlin may not provide the best way to live after all.
This book is a suggested read-aloud for the History Year 1 course and is included in the optional History 1 Book Pack.
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