About the book: Rose Blanche was the name of a group of young German citizens who, at their peril, protested against the war. Like them, Rose observes all the changes going on around her which others choose to ignore. She watches as the streets of her small German town fill with soldiers.
One day she sees a little boy escaping from the back of a truck, only to be captured by the mayor and shoved back into it. Rose follows the truck to a desolate place out of town, where she discovers many other children, staring hungrily from behind an electric barbed wire fence. She starts bringing the children food, instinctively sensing the need for secrecy, even with her mother.
Until the tide of the war turns and soldiers in different uniforms stream in from the East, and Rose and the imprisoned children disappear for ever . . .
Reasons for selection: This book can be used as you are studying a topic on the Second World War
The realistic images and beautifully written story give a wealth of information in this engaging historical fiction book.
It may be helpful for children to know something about the war prior to reading the book. However it may be that the book is used as the hook into the topic as it provides a framework for questions and stimulates curiosity about the events that occur within the story, which can then be examined and studied further.
Whichever approach you take the subject of the Holocaust is a difficult one and potentially harrowing. For this reason the topic needs to be approached with due care and the limits or explanation should be decided in advance. It is also, in our view important to offer hope to the children, just as the story of Rose Blanche does through the final pages. Knowing that there were survivors and that with tremendous spirit, people found ways to cope and even find love in the darkest of circumstances is important.
In spite of these caveats, it is important to develop children’s empathy and prepare them for the world in which they live so that they are equipped to understand and navigate Roberto Innocenti was moved to tell this story because he was protected from the truth of what was happening when he was a child living through the war. Withholding knowledge of the world brings its own anxieties and uncertainties. Our role as educators is to help them navigate a difficult world in positive and reassuring ways.
About Take One Book: The books in the Take One Book collection can be used in conjunction with the Take One Book website, or independently. Take One Book is Just Imagine’s programme for teaching reading and English using high quality literature. You can find further information and free exemplar units on the Take One Book website takeonebook.org
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