In this debut novel for middle-grade students, Rob Currie has crafted the remarkable story of a young Dutch boy who finds his life turned upside down during WWII. When the Nazi soldiers invade Holland, Dirk Ingelse must abandon his home to protect his little sister, Anna. Their father and older sister have become involved with the Dutch Resistance, and this places both Dirk and Anna in danger because the Nazis want to use the children to lure their father out of hiding.
In this story set during the real Hunger Winter of 1944, the reader quickly learns how the Dutch people faced more than deprivation. They faced starvation weekly once the Nazi soldiers confiscated their food. Faced with a devastating situation, neighbors began to “tell” on other neighbors in exchange for food, and Dirk and Anna find themselves on the run to escape capture.
This story is bound to please young readers as they silently cheer for Dirk and Anna to survive and consequently learn a lot about WWII in the Netherlands. The published version of the book will contain maps, which will be helpful, but I also think a concise introduction about WWII—who fought whom, and why—would be beneficial for young readers.