A great escape by Felice Arena
Penguin Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780143794042.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Berlin Wall; Freedom; Escape. Felice Arena has created a story about life for a young person at the time of the separation of West Germany from East Germany during the Cold War era. With the creation of the Berlin Wall, families were separated and with no way to get back together, many East Germans chose to prepare escape plans at the risk of their life. For Peter, the young boy left behind while his family went to the Western region of Berlin, the risks are high. With the only family left in the East with him, his Oma and his stroke-impacted Opa, the pull of his immediate family and the brief glimpses of his parents and sister through the barrier create incredible tension for him. If only he could fly over the barrier. This is a sad story about a period of history that many Australian children know very little about.
Written simply and with very short chapters, this book is accessible for young readers who enjoy history and adventure. Even older readers will be able to connect to the difficulties faced by the young boy and the struggles of the friends around him. This is certainly a book that could be recommended to readers that have enjoyed Felice Arena's other historical books Fearless Frederic and The Boy and the Spy, but also readers who have enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The naivety of young Peter and the unfathomable circumstances of the times reminds current readers of the difficulties that children have faced in the past.
Highly recommended for readers aged 9+.