Michael Rosen grew up with many questions about his Jewish ancestors. They were there before the Second World War, but then they weren’t. His grandfather was Polish, and this story focuses on his grandfather’s brothers, Oscar and Martin.
Aimed at children from ten years upwards, it is written in a simple and effective way that won’t traumatise readers. The prolific author and poet felt the need to write this book after meeting a student in a school who denied that the Holocaust happened. He explains how important it was to find out more about his relatives. When the Nazis knew they were losing, they tried to destroy evidence that the millions of people they had killed ever existed. In his family’s case, it was working, because no one knew anything about them ‘and this frustrated me beyond words. It meant the Nazis has succeeded,’ he writes. Thanks to Michael Rosen, we now know that Oscar and Martin existed. The author draws parallels between the plight of refugees today and the Jewish families fleeing for their safety. ‘I hope this book becomes part of a bigger conversation about the refugee crisis. About how to find fair and decent ways of helping people like my relatives,’ he writes. The story is interspersed with simple, thoughtprovoking poems. It also includes a useful family tree and a list of recommended books about the Second World War, refugees and displacement. Highly recommended.