Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review: Is It Night or Day? by Fern Schumer Chapman

Is It Night or Day? is a beautifully written and touching story for YA readers set during World War II. Fern Schumer Chapman tells mother's story of how she was sent to America by her parents to have her best chance at life. This novel is an excellent choice for students studying World War II, particularly because it brings to life America's One Thousand Children project; a virtually unheard of, but heroic and extraordinary humanitarian effort to save German children during the Nazi regime.

Summary: It’s 1938, and twelve-year-old Edith is about to move from the tiny German village she’s lived in all her life to a place that seems as foreign as the moon: Chicago, Illinois. And she will be doing it alone. This dramatic and chilling novel about one girl’s escape from Hitler’s Germany was inspired by the experiences of the author’s mother, one of twelve hundred children rescued by Americans as part of the One Thousand Children project. 

Edith's story, like all wartime stories, is tragic. But the story is told through the eyes of a little girl with hope, strength, and an inspiring resilience. The language and content is clean, though the novel does mention suicide. Edith's mother becomes depressed early in the novel and is caught by Edith stringing a rope in the attic. Ultimately, this is not how her mother dies, but this moment in the plot is a notable content flag.

Is It Night or Day? offers readers a unique view into the effects of the war on German and Jewish people. I very much enjoyed reading this novel and recommend it for both educational and personal uses. My copy of the book includes bonus material, including a discussion guide and a real story of how Edith and another emigrant child are reunited after the novel was published.

4 Stars

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