I once started a mental list of “journey books”. By that I mean stories that are one long and difficult journey, usually walking, from A to B, done by a lone child or a group of children. These books generally require hankies, both during and after.
Linda Press Wulf’s The Night of the Burning, which is now out in paperback, is a journey book. It’s about two Jewish sisters going from Poland to South Africa. While many Jewish stories are connected to the second world war, this one starts in 1921.
Another journey book is Last Train From Kummersdorf by Leslie Wilson. This is set in Germany during the war, but it’s not primarily about Jews. So again, that makes it a little bit different. Sometimes it feels as if all war stories set in Germany are about the persecution of Jews, when in actual fact there must also have been many other children suffering hardship.
The boy Hanno and the girl Effi end up in each other’s company, and they slowly make their way to Kummersdorf, to catch a train. It takes on a sense of not being real, and you somehow doubt that they’ll ever get to Kummersdorf, or if they do, there’ll be no point in having arrived. The story is based on real events, which makes it much more poignant.
I don’t feel you can have enough of these stories, whether about Germany, the war or simply as journey books. I can sense a whole series of journey posts coming on…