BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Peter in Peril (available here)
Author & Illustrator: Helen Bate
Publisher: Otter Barry Books
Publication Date: September 2016
Most Suitable For: Upper KS2
Reviewed By: Chris Whitney, Literacy Consultant
This book is an Amnesty International UK endorsed book. It is set in Budapest during the Second World War and is a true story of a young Jewish boy and his family struggling to survive in the war torn city.
The book is based on facts and Peter, the young boy in the story, tells the moving account of his family’s survival as hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were taken away to concentration camps, where more often than not they were killed or died of disease or starvation.
The story is written in the first person with Peter telling the reader how before the war, he loved to play football with his friends and eat cake. The reader meets his family and friends and begins to understand the difficulties facing a Jewish family at that time. We journey with Peter as his family is evicted from his house, leaving belongings and facing hardship. There are echoes of Anne Frank as we see the family go into hiding. We follow Peter to several different secret hiding places, hungry and cold, and finally see him reunited with his parents and his former home. The war is over and Peter’s family have survived.
The book is illustrated in graphic novel style, with the story told through a series of images and dialogue with short bursts of text. Although the events are horrific, there is always a sense of hope and the reader feels the courage of the Jewish families. It is even more poignant as at the end of the book we meet Peter and his family as they are now.
There is also a section on the background to the events in the story bringing it right up to date with an image of the steel weeping willow tree in Budapest, whose leaves hold the names of every Jewish person from Hungary killed by the Nazis. The inside covers, front and back, present a very useful map showing where Peter lived throughout the events in the book.
I found it an emotional read, but one filled with hope.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Chris Whitney for reviewing it.