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The Gnome's Eye

The Gnome's Eye

4.0 1
by Anna Kerz

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In the spring of 1954, when her father announces that the family has a chance to immigrate to Canada, Theresa's life changes forever. She and her family are wartime refugees from Yugoslavia, so it shouldn't be hard to leave Austria. But the weathered barracks of Lager Lichtenstein are the only home she knows, and they are filled with family and friends she doesn't


In the spring of 1954, when her father announces that the family has a chance to immigrate to Canada, Theresa's life changes forever. She and her family are wartime refugees from Yugoslavia, so it shouldn't be hard to leave Austria. But the weathered barracks of Lager Lichtenstein are the only home she knows, and they are filled with family and friends she doesn't want to leave behind. As she says her good-byes, Theresa's friend Martin gives her two gifts: a package of postcards and a stone he calls the Gnome's Eye, which he says will ""protect her from all things evil, living or dead."" Theresa is convinced the stone has no power, but she still keeps it close as they travel on the crowded immigrant ship and when they settle into a rooming house on Kensington Avenue in Toronto. At first Theresa is afraid of everything: the other tenants in the rooming house, the rat that lives in the kitchen, learning a new language. But as time goes by, Theresa's need for the Gnome's Eye fades, until she is finally able to give it to someone who needs it more than she does.

Editorial Reviews

"[A] lively, detailed novel...The immigration drama will hold readers."
CM Magazine
"A realistic novel that shows the trauma of adjustment to a new culture. The Gnome's Eye also contains mythical, magical elements that give it an added dimension…Highly recommended."
Quill & Quire
"Kerz provides a fresh take on...immigrant motifs in a well-shaped plot...Kerz does a particularly nice job of indicating that the characters are not speaking English."
Resource Links
"A touching story of immigration through the eyes of a young girl...Sensitive and fast-paced, this well-written novel will capture the reader's interest on many levels."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Sensitively written…Highly recommend[ed]."
Puget Sound Council
"An excellent book for anyone interested in the struggles of an immigrant."
Library Media Connection
"A believable first-person narrative told through the eyes of an impressionable, imaginative child…This family interests the reader, and learning about a different time and place is intriguing. Recommended."
January Magazine
"A charming fish out of water story with sharply imaginative elements that children nine to 12 will enjoy."
Children's Literature - Bobbie Lowe
Theresa and her family have emigrated from Austria to Canada. When they arrive in their new country and home, Theresa is afraid of everything. Fortunately, her friend Martin gives her a lucky stone to protect her. The story moves through the family's beginning stages of acclimating to a new language, new home, new school, new jobs, and new friends. Theresa learns how hard it is to start in a new school not knowing English and how hard it is to make friends when her accent does not allow her to say her classmates' names. The story jumps and is hard to follow. The nicknames used for her family make it difficult to place who everyone is in Theresa's life. There could have been more character development so readers could empathize with the characters. However, many other new students from other countries will relate to the pressures Theresa feels starting a new school and learning a new language. As the story comes to a close, a hurricane shows how lucky they are, even if they do share their new apartment with a rat and some mice in the cupboards. Perhaps this catastrophic event is a bit over the top and diminishes the efforts of Theresa and her family to acclimate to their new culture. Reviewer: Bobbie Lowe
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Post-World War II life in a refugee camp in Austria is difficult for 10-year-old Theresa and her family, but new challenges arise with the opportunity to emigrate to Canada. From the long train ride and stormy ocean voyage to the new surroundings in a tenement house in Toronto, Theresa copes with her fears and emotional strife caused by everything that is new—neighbors, school, language, and making friends by relying on a "magical stone" she received from her friend Martin before her departure. A vivid imagination helps her to believe that the "gnome's eye" will protect her from all the evil she is to encounter in her new country. Through a kind teacher, Theresa learns a most important lesson about exhibiting courage when life's struggles seem to present themselves in new ways each day. This immigration story, while similar in many ways to other postwar novels, presents itself through a strong first-person voice deft in creating an empathetic and engaging response in middle grade readers. Both laughter and genuine concern will be evident through Theresa's imaginative storytelling and descriptive narrative.—Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.40(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dear Martin:

I got in trouble yesterday. I thought about all the stories you made up, so I made up one of my own and told it to Herman-the-Pest, and now I have to stay beside my mother for a whole day. I thought it was a good story, but he thought it was scary. The funny part is that he cried again the next night because I wasn't allowed to tell him another one!

Meet the Author

Anna Kerz's first book, The Mealworm Diaries, was shortlisted for many awards, including a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award. Anna is also the author of The Gnome's Eye, a story loosely based on her experiences as an immigrant child, and Better Than Weird, the companion novel to The Mealworm Diaries. When she's not writing, Anna can be found working in her garden, walking her dog or collecting new folk and fairy tales, myths and legends to try out on her grandchildren. In her spare time, she tells stories to audiences of all ages and teaches students how to tell stories of their own. She lives in Scarborough, Ontario, with her husband, Frank, and their dog, Bailey.

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The Gnome's Eye 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Living in a refugee camp in Austria after World War II, 10-year-old Theresa longs for a place to call home. When her family is given an opportunity to move to Toronto, Canada, Theresa's friend gives her a stone that she believes will keep her safe. When she arrives in Canada, she has a hard time adjusting to her new school, new home, and new neighbors. When emotional strife over all the new things and learning a foreign language become too much for her, she turns to a kind teacher for help. Will the help be enough for her to find the courage within herself to face her greatest fears - and to finally find a place to call home? A touching story about one's power within themselves. The characters are well-developed. The story is memorable and based on the author's experiences. Readers who like fictionalized true stories, historical fiction, and books about courage and bravery will enjoy THE GNOME'S EYE.