When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

At first I was a little disappointed with the two sequels to When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, as I had expected them to be about younger children, which is odd, as I didn’t buy them for children to read, but just to please myself. I chose Pink Rabbit because I liked the title, knowing nothing about Judith Kerr at the time. Apart from the fact that we didn’t actually get to see Hitler himself with any pink rabbit at all, I liked the book a lot. 

Anna and her family leave Germany in 1933, and go to Switzerland and then to Paris, before ending up in England. I found it fascinating to read about how they settled in, in each place, learning the language and anything else they needed to know. They were obviously the “lucky” ones, leaving early enough to get away, without being split up or losing each other.

The disappointment I mentioned was probably due to me expecting to find out what it was like when the family first arrived in England. I’d have liked to know about their early experiences. Instead I got Anna as a teenager on her own, in The Other Way Round, which of course is an excellent story, too. Just not the one I had in mind. It’s more the how to cope in London during the war scenario, than about the recent refugee experience.

In the third book Anna is a newly married young woman, so it’s yet another big jump in time. In retrospect I see how well this worked, and that Judith Kerr provides the reader with a very interesting series of sketches of life during three quite different decades.

At the time I didn’t know this would lead to our old friend Mog, as I hadn’t yet been introduced to the much beloved cat. It was Mog who popped up in our house because we had children, not the pink rabbit. But as I mentioned in my blog about Mog a while back, it’s amazing how many adult fans Judith has made with her cat books. And maybe that’s why I find I don’t know where to place the Pink Rabbit trilogy. It’s not entirely a children’s story once you get to the second book.

Claire Armitstead did an interesting profile of Judith Kerr in the Guardian Review a couple of weeks ago, which is well worth reading. Looking at the sequels to Pink Rabbit now, I feel I could do with a book about all of Judith’s life.

6 responses to “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

  1. My current favourite book to read with my 3-year-old son is Judith Kerr’s ‘Goose in a Hole’. It’s remarkably sophisticated for a book for that age group, while remaining effortless to read and listen to. There are two distinct narratives (I know – in a picture book!!) and a huge cast of speaking characters, all beautifully sketched with their distinctive dialogue, so that I find myself doing about eight different voices when reading it aloud. Katrina the goose is impulsive and scatty; her husband Charlie is long-suffering and practical; and there is a remarkable variety of human characters too. You’d think it’d be confusing, but it isn’t at all. Consequently, the only author’s name my son recognises, when written down, is ‘Judith Kerr’.

  2. Comment 2: My wife attended a talk by Judith Kerr, and someone asked her the question, ‘How did you feel when Hitler came to power?’

    The answer she gave I found almost unbearably poignant: ‘At the time, my biggest concern was that I wished for a cuckoo clock.’

  3. That’s very good, Nick. It’s what a child would think.

    Can I please come and listen to you and all the voices?

  4. > Can I please come and listen to you and all the voices?

    It’s a strange thing, the book really brings out the frustrated actor in me.

  5. Oh yes, I keep forgetting your acting past.

  6. Pingback: Refugee reads | Bookwitch

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