Title: Hedy’s Journey
Author: Michelle Bisson
Major Themes: Holocaust, Hungary, Jews, Refugees, World War II
Synopsis: A Jewish girl living in Hungary in 1941 must be brave in order to survive.
One of my favorite types of book is a picture book that tells a true story from history for young children. I’m very happy whenever I can find a good book like that that I haven’t seen before. Hedy’s Journey is my most recent find.
Hedy was a young girl when the Germans took over her country of Hungary. By 1941, her family knew they had to leave Hungary or they would be sent to labor camps in Germany. As Jews, there was nowhere in Europe that was really safe for them. Through the help of a relative in America, they were able to get visas to go to that land of freedom—but could only get three train tickets to Portugal, where they were to catch a ship across the Atlantic Ocean. With four people in the family, one would have to stay behind to catch a later train—could Hedy be brave enough for that?
As you read this story, you’ll follow Hedy and her family across Europe, and then across the Atlantic Ocean. A lot of the story is sad; a trip like they were forced to make in order to survive is not easy. This is a true story, however, about real people.
I thought the pictures were well-done for this story. They are not quite black and white; there is a little color. However, they are somber, which fits the mood of the book perfectly. I also liked the maps here and there in the background of the illustrations. They were helpful in showing the family’s progress.
If you have a child who tends to get worried easily, this book might be a bit much for him. On the other hand, the ending is happy, even though there were challenges all through the journey.
I received a free ecopy of this book from NetGalley, and chose to write a review.
WARNING: The concentration camps are mentioned on page 6, and someone who is being taken there knows she will die in them. On page 31 a toddler dies while playing.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9