Thursday Discussion is a fortnightly meme started by the lovely Ally @Ally Writes Things. Head to her page to see a list of upcoming topics.
Favourite Childhood Books
I did this topic a few months ago for Top Ten Tuesday. See that post here. So today I am going to focus primarily on a trilogy of books I read as a little girl that still mean a lot to me…
When I was about 8 or 9 years old I came across a book called ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ in my local library. I remember being intrigued by the title and so I borrowed the book to read at home.
And I absolutely fell in love with the story of Anna and her family.
The book followed the story of Anna who had to flee Berlin with her family because they were Jewish and her father had written articles that were less than favourable to the Nazi regime.
The character of Anna was so wonderfully ordinary. I remember loving her little sense of humour and very much relating to her views of the world. She had this amazing quality of seeing the world with beautiful childish innocence but also with surprising incisiveness.
I can tell you that I ended up borrowing that book countless more times in the following years and always feeling comforted with each reread as Anna began to feel like a familiar friend.
And then a few years later I received the most marvellous and unexpected surprise in my Christmas Stocking… my very own copy of ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’. But what was even better is that this edition entitled ‘Out of the Hitler Time’ did not just have that book, it also contained two sequels of whose existence I had been unaware.
- The Other Way Round (aka Bombs on Aunt Dainty)
- A Small Person Far Away
And I remember quite vividly sitting down to read these stories that Christmas night and becoming even more invested in Anna’s story as she went from 9 year old child to teenager to adulthood. This anthology became one of the greatest Christmas presents I have ever received and to this day I still have it in my possession. In fact this year I am going to hopefully pass on my love of these books to my niece as I intend to give her a copy for Christmas.
I think that what makes these books so great is Judith.
Judith Kerr wrote this trilogy largely based on her real experience as she herself was born in Berlin and had to flee Germany with her family in 1933. But not every person has the ability to write about their experiences in such an authentic and tangible fashion as Judith. Her skill as an author was immense. Her books are filled with her heart, her soul and above all, her wonderful sense of humour.
I saw this documentary on Judith some time ago and it firmly reinforced my belief that only the most beautiful of souls such as Judith could have written her wonderful stories. If you have time I really do recommend watching it.
Judith Kerr died just this year. On May 22nd. And I wept openly when I heard. I think when you read a book as a child it truly becomes a part of you and in many ways helps to carve you into the adult you will become. I truly believe that we absorb our childhood favourites into our soul and can never be parted from them. So when she died I grieved. Because I will always love Judith. I loved her words as a child and even more so as an adult.
So this post is my thank you to Judith. Thank you for writing your wonderful books. Thank you for being a huge part of my childhood and thank you for helping me to become the person I am today. I will forever hold you and your books in a special place in my heart.
Rest in peace dear Judith, from one reader who will always love you.