Home, by Karen Hendriks and illustrated by Alisa Knatko
Updated: Aug 27
Home is an inspiring and poignant picture book, which shines a light on the largely unknown story of the expulsion of three million Sudeten Germans from their homes in East-Central and Southern Europe, between 1945 and 1946. Thousands of these refugees died, while others were assisted in travelling to Australia.
This book is a tribute to all the refugees who were expelled from their homes, and is inspired by the author’s own family history. It depicts the story of a young girl and her parents, who are forced to leave their home in a peaceful mountain village. They are crammed onto trains, where officers check their belongings and take their jewellery. Our young narrator manages to keep her precious heart locket hidden. This locket holds safe the stories of her home, and is a source of comfort, strength and hope as the girl and her family live as refugees, often cold, hungry and afraid.
But, with her precious locket close to her heart, the young girl never gives up hope, and finally comes to realise that home is inside of us, and so can never really be lost. It lives on in our songs, stories and memories.
This is a gently told story of courage and hope. The narrative is moving without delving into sentimentality. The illustrations are emotive and expressive –the shadowy background colours conveying the fear and uncertainty of the aftermath of war. However the girl and her parents are always depicted in a soft wash of colours, illuminating their unwavering hope.
I love how this story is accessible to a range of age groups. My 9 and 7 year olds were both interested in and moved by the story. We talked about how frightening it would feel to be forcibly removed from your home and have nowhere to live. This led to further discussion about the plight of refugees – both in history and the current day. Mr 4 was interested in the story too – and was concerned for the young girl and her family.
I would recommend this book for lower through to upper primary school aged readers. There is much to be discussed around themes of home, belonging, fear, courage, history and refugees.
Hope ultimately shines through this story like a light flickering in the dark.
Thank you to the author and publisher for my copy of this incredible book and for having me along on the Blog Review Tour.
Published by Daisy Lane Publishing