'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 30 August 2021

Review: Home

In a snowy mountain village, my family had lived peacefully for hundreds of years…

Until the day soldiers came to our door.

A young girl, her family and her entire village are forced from their houses after the war. 

There is no safety, no freedom and nowhere to call home. The young girl hides her locket from the soldiers, and as her family and the other villagers try to survive, the locket whispers to the girl...

Be strong. 
Sing our songs. 
Home is within.

With love in their hearts, the villagers stick together, and finally the girl and her family are taken by boat to a new land — Australia.

It is different to where they came from, and things can never go back to the way they were, but the girl finds a new home and a place that is safe and free for her to grow.

Home is a beautiful and important picture book about forgotten histories and the strength of family. Based on the true story of the removal of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia (and other places) following World War II, it tells the untold story of people who were forced to leave their homes because of unwarranted fear and prejudice.

Everyone from our village was marched down the main street as our empty houses stood guard making dark shadows.

So many emotions fill these pages. Heartache, pain and fear, but also love, hope and togetherness. As the refugees band together, they share their songs and dances to keep their traditions alive. They have little, but they share what they have. They never give up — never stop trying to find a new home.

Author Karen Hendricks delivers a story of strength and hope in this powerful picture book. It shows kids that resilience is in all of us, and that it’s the people around us that make up a home.

Through the use beautifully evocative language, Hendricks pulls readers deep into the story, sparking questions and discussion. But this is all balanced so well, with the story delivered with kids in mind, so that they can understand the themes and messages without needing explanation from adults.

I love this kind of gentle storytelling with powerful issues. Kids are smart, and they can pull meaning from story without our help. 

Home provides lots to interpret and think critically about, making it a book that can mean different things to different audiences. For me, the book has themes of resilience, hope, family, refugees, war and the meaning of home. But this is what I pull from the pages. When you read the book, you may find something different. I adore this.

Teamed with stunning illustrations from Alisa Knato, an illustrator from Russia, every turn of the page is layered with additional visual meaning. Through use of shadows and darkness, deep colours and gorgeous details, you are invited to step into the world of the girl and her village and experience every sadness and celebration with them.

At the back of the book, you’ll also find helpful facts about what happened after World War II to many ethnic Germans living in different countries. The information is easy to understand and very kid friendly, and it will help deepen understanding and allow kids to learn more.

On the very last page, Hendricks dedicates the story to her mother and grandmother, who were expelled from the village of Wunshendorf after the war before making their way to Australia. 

This story is for them.

Title: Home
Author: Karen Hendricks
Illustrator: Alisa Knatko
Publisher:  Daisy Lane Publishing, $28.95
Publication Date: 20 June 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780648771890
For ages: 4 - 10
Type: Picture Book