Jackie French's books for children also include "Rain Stones", shortlisted for CBC's Children Book of the Year Award for Young Readers 1991, "Walking the Boundaries", a Notable Book in the 1994 CBC Awards, and "Somewhere Around the Corner", an Honour Book in the 1995 CBC Awards.
Gr 4-6-In order to amuse themselves while waiting for the school bus, a group of contemporary Australian children encourage their friend Anna to tell a story. "She always added details so you saw the story in your mind." But this time, the story has real characters in it. Anna imagines that Hitler had a daughter whom he kept hidden, because of a large birthmark on her face and a lame leg. Heidi, the imaginary child, leads a protected life during World War II with her governess. As the days go by, the story grows in power for 10-year-old Mark. He begins to wonder what it must have been like to have an evil father like Hitler, and he begins to question his own parents and the fact that they live on land that was originally occupied by Aborigines. The two stories proceed in tandem at an uneven pace. Heidi is the most interesting character. Mark is the only contemporary character developed in any depth, but his growing conflict with his parents and the ethical issues tossed up by the story are cut short and don't lead anywhere. For most of the book, it isn't clear how Anna knows enough to tell Heidi's story, complete with details of Berchtesgaden and Hitler's bunker. The answer to this question comes at the end. While affecting, it is also a letdown. The implication is that Anna's grandmother, who told her the story, was, or could have been, Hitler's daughter. While it is based on an interesting idea and could be used as a discussion starter, this novel is ultimately unsatisfying.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.