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5 Living Books About Europe and its People

5 unforgettable books about Europe, its culture, and its people written for children.


The Gate Swings In: A story of Sweden by Nora Burglon


Minda is an orphan, taken in by her practical and less-than-enthusiastic Aunt Karin. Minda and her crafty goat, Stor Geta, struggle to find a place to call home—and to get the money her aunt insists she must earn for her school clothes and shoes. She tries being a servant and house-help, an entrepreneur, even a herd-girl up on the mountains, but nothing comes easy. And yet there is much joy and adventure. She meets a young widow, the Mistress of Dalstorp, and together they face the world until at last they win through and find each other. [amazon]


Hidden Tales from Eastern Europe

By: Antonia Barber, Paul Hess (Illustrator), Shena Guild (Editor)


The walls of Eastern Europe have recently crumbled, revealing a rich variety of peoples and cultures. Hidden Tales from Eastern Europe features seven little-known folk tales with titles such as "The Shepherd King" and "The Hundred Children" that reflect this variety in enchanting stories of stout-hearted men, wise women, and dull-witted dragons. These stories are culled from Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, and Russia. [booktopia]



The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan


With her signature spare language and luminescent detail, award–winning author Gloria Whelan delivers the gripping companion novel to her Russian saga, Angel on the Square.


One night in 1934, Marya and Georgi's parent's disappear. The children, alone and desperate, fear the worst. But one crumpled letter gives the children hope and sends them on a difficult mission : to escape the city and find passage to the great Siberian wilderness. This is the story of their journey, one both perilous and transforming. [goodreads]



Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin


Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:

The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.

A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.

A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.

But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.


This moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility. [goodreads]



Sticks Across the Chimney: A Story of Denmark by Nora Burglon


This popular tale is set in rural Denmark at the end of 19th century and captures the mood, customs and beliefs of that time - as well as delving into ancient Viking culture. When young Siri and Erik and their widowed mother buy a deserted farm with an ancient Viking grave mound on the land, they have no idea of the challenges and adventures that await them. First they must use their wits and humor to survive without money, as well as deal with suspicious townspeople. Later they participate in the mysterious and exciting events that lead to the opening of the mound and the discovery of a rich hoard of ancient Viking treasure.


Sticks across the Chimney was written out of Nora Burglon's deep personal knowledge of Scandinavia, and is perfectly complemented by her Swedish tale The Gate swings In. [booktopia]



When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr


This semi-autobiographical and unforgettable story, of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany before the start of the Second World War.


Michael Morpurgo called When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: “The most life-enhancing book you could ever wish to read.” This internationally acclaimed story of one Jewish family's flight from Hitler's Germany has become a much-loved classic, and has been in print since its debut 45 years ago.


Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people.


That is what happened to Anna in 1933. She was nine years old when it began, too busy to take much notice of political posters, but out of them glared the face of Adolf Hitler, the man who would soon change the whole of Europe – starting with her own small life.


One day, Anna's father was missing. Then she herself and her brother Max were being rushed by their mother, in alarming secrecy, away from everything they knew – home and schoolmates and well-loved toys – right out of Germany… [booktopia]




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