From Annaby Jean Little, Joan Sandin
Anna has always been the clumsy one in the family. Somehow she can never do anything right! She bumps into tables, and she can't read the blackboard at her school. Her perfect brothers and sisters call her "Awkward Anna." When Papa announces that the family is moving from Germany to Canada, Anna's heart sinks. How can she learn English when she can't even read
Anna has always been the clumsy one in the family. Somehow she can never do anything right! She bumps into tables, and she can't read the blackboard at her school. Her perfect brothers and sisters call her "Awkward Anna." When Papa announces that the family is moving from Germany to Canada, Anna's heart sinks. How can she learn English when she can't even read German? Nothing could be worse than this!
But when the Soldens arrive in Canada, Anna learns that there is a reason for her clumsiness. And suddenly, wonderfully, her whole world begins to change.
Read an Excerpt
A Song For Herr KepplerLet it really be Papa, Anna wished desperately as she tugged open the big front door. Let me be right.
She wanted to run down the steps but they were uneven and she had fallen headlong down them before now. That was no way to meet Papa, landing at his feet upside down and with a fresh batch of bruises. The moment she was on flat ground, however, she ran. Then she was close enough to be sure -- and she was right.
"Papa, Papa1" she cried in delight, flinging her arms around his middle and hugging him. The next instant she was trying to get away. She, Anna, never grabbed people like that, not right out on the street where anyone could see. But Papa had dropped his briefcase and was hugging her back so hard you could tell he would not mind if all the world were watching.
"Stop, stop! You're breaking my bones," Anna gasped at last.
Laughing, he let go of her. At once she became very busy picking, up the briefcase, dusting it off with part of her skirt and giving it back to him. She kept her head bent so he would not catch her joy at being the first to meet him, at the wonderful hug, at everything. But Papa guessed. He reached down and captured one of her hands and swung it in his as they started for the house.
"Where are the others?" he asked.
Anna scowled. Why were the older four always so important? And yet of course he would wonder. She could not remember ever before having been the only one to meet him. Always Gretchen or Rudi, Fritz or Frieda, or even all four, hadbeen there too.
"They're busy fighting about what happened in school today," she explained. "But I sat on the windowsill and watched until I saw you coming."
She was dragging her feet now. She so wanted him to herself a few moments longer.
"What happened in school?" he asked. He let go of her hand, and they both stopped walking while he waited to hear. Without thinking about it, Anna reached up and jerked on one of her thin braids. It was a habit she had when she was worried.
"Don't, Anna," Papa warned . "It'll come undone." He was too late. Anna looked down in dismay at the crumpled ribbon in her fist. So often Mama begged her to leave her hair alone. So often she forgot.
"Maybe I can fix it," Papa said. "I can try anyway."
Anna turned her back and held the ribbon up over her shoulder to him. Awkwardly he bundled together the loose hair into one strand. Her mother was right about it being difficult. Wisps of it kept slipping away from him. But at last, while Anna clutched the end, he tied a lopsided bow around the middle. He frowned at it. He had made no attempt to rebraid it and it looked all wrong. Anna knew how it looked as well as he did, but she told herself she did not care. Even when it was newly done by Mama herself, it never looked just right, like Gretchen's smooth, gleaming thick braids.
"About school, Papa," she reminded him, turning around.
Papa forgot her hair too.
For one instant, Anna hesitated. It was really Gretchen's story, not hers. But Gretchen and the rest so often had something to tell. There was never anything. she, Anna, could say about her troubled days in Frau Schmidt's class. Anyway, it was Gretchen's own fault she hadn't been watching out for Papa!
"We were all at Assembly," Anna plunged in. "We always have Assembly before we start classes and we sing then. We get to choose a couple of the songs. The older children, that is. This morning it was Gretchen's turn and she asked for 'Die Gedanken sind frei.' The whole school knows it except for the younger children. I'm the only one in my class who knows it all."
Anna paused, proud of her knowledge and remembering the day Papa had taught her the song, when she was only five years old. He had explained the proud words until she understood them and then they had marched along together, singing it. Die Gedanken sind frei. It meant "thoughts are free."
"So what happened?" Papa said again.
"Well, Herr Keppler . . . You know, Papa, he's the new Headmaster the government sent after Herr Jakobsohn left."
Papa nodded, and his face darkened. He and Herr Jakobsohn had been friends. They had played chess together. But the Jakobsohns had gone to America three weeks ago.
"Herr Keppler just said, 'We will not sing that song in this school again.' Fräulein Braun had already started to play the beginning to get us started and nobody knew what to do. Gretchen was still standing up and she went all red and said right out loud, 'Why?' That was brave of her, Papa. Everybody is frightened of Herr Keppler. When Rudi says he isn't, he's lying."
"What answer did Herr Keppler give Gretchen?" Papa said.
He sounded angry, almost as though he already knew.
"He didn't answer her at all," Anna said. She was still surprised as she thought back. "I mean, he didn't give any reason. He just looked at her and said, 'Sit down.'" The command came sharply from Anna's lips as she imitated the Headmaster.
"Rudi says maybe Herr Keppler just doesn't like that song and that it didn't mean anything special . . . ." Her voice trailed off uncertainly.
"What did you sing instead?" Papa asked, beginning, once again, to move slowly toward the house. As they walked, he looked not at her but at the ground.
"'Deutschland, Deutschland fiber alles.'"
They were at the steps now. Their time alone was almost over. Anna's shoulders drooped.From Anna. Copyright © by Jean Little. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Jean Little is the author of more than twenty-five books for children. In addition to Emma's Magic Winter, her first I Can Read Book, Ms. Little's works include the novels Lost and Found, Different Dragons, From Anna and Hey World, Here I Am, illustrated by Sue Truesdell. Jean Little has always been interested in adoption, and she had a first-hand experience with it when her sister adopted two children several years ago. The family has nine pets, the most recent addition being Henry Higgins, a talking African gray parrot. Although Jean Little was born with scarred corneas that severely impair her vision, she has always loved to read and to write. She writes with a voice-activated computer and travels widely with her Seeing Eye dog, Pippa. Ms. Little lives in Ontario, Canada.
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I first read this book as a teen. I immediately loved it because it made me feel okay about not always fitting in. It's an easy read, and is as enjoyable for adults as it is for teens. I gave a copy of it to my niece when she reached 'the difficult years' and she enjoyed it as well. A great young adult novel.