Written by Tom Clohosy Cole (illus.) Tom Palmer
Review by Louise Tree

Inspired by the teenage years of Audrey Hepburn, this story is set in the Nazi-occupied town of Velp in the Netherlands. Under a brutal occupation, teenager Edda has had to lose her English name to hide her dual heritage. Her uncle has already been murdered by the Nazi occupiers, her brothers are at risk of enslavement, and she has seen families forced onto trains and taken to camps where people say they are murdered. The occupying soldiers make her frightened and angry, but it is her anger at injustice which gives her the courage to help the local Resistance, starting with the distribution of their illegal newsletter, De Oranjekrant. Edda’s activities place her in great danger, not only from the Nazis but also from exposure by local collaborators. There are worrying rumours about her mother, and Edda must find out whether these are true. Edda also loves to dance, and the act of dancing on ‘dark evenings’—secret performances to raise money for Jews, Allied airmen and young Dutch men in hiding from the German draft—provides hope not only to Edda, but to the occupied community who come to watch.

In a beautifully crafted story, Tom Palmer gives us a timely reminder of the grim details of military occupation and a community disoriented by destruction and refugees, a situation which forces ethical decisions from both adults and children. This is tense and sensory storytelling in which everyday details such as curfew, round-ups and cooking tulip bulbs show us a world of tight enemy control lit by the hope of liberation. A teenage reader will perceive the psychological strength and ingenuity required to survive brutality and starvation. This story provides a vivid experience of a young person’s response to war and the power of hope. Highly recommended.