The End of the Line

The End of the Line

5.0 2
by Sharon McKay

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Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland.

Five-year-old Beatrix looks on in horror as the soldier forces her mother off the tram. It is 1942 in Amsterdam, and everyone knows what happens to Jews who are taken away by the Nazis. The soldier turns his attention to Beatrix, when suddenly, the ticket-taker, Lars Gorter,

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Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland.

Five-year-old Beatrix looks on in horror as the soldier forces her mother off the tram. It is 1942 in Amsterdam, and everyone knows what happens to Jews who are taken away by the Nazis. The soldier turns his attention to Beatrix, when suddenly, the ticket-taker, Lars Gorter, blurts out that she is his niece. With his brother Hans, the tram conductor, they manage to rescue the child from the same fate as her mother.

The two elderly brothers realize that they are now in charge of the little girl. They are at a loss -- after all, neither one has ever married, let alone has children. They know that harboring a Jew could cost them their lives, but in desperation, they turn to a neighbor, Mrs. Vos, for help. But even these kindly rescuers cannot shield Beatrix totally from the horrors of war.

Based on real events, this suspenseful novel vividly portrays the fear, uncertainty, and terror of the Nazi occupation in Holland. It is a story that reflects both the worst and best of humankind. A worthy addition to children's books about the Holocaust, The End of the Line will leave young readers to ponder how the most dreadful conditions can lead ordinary citizens to perform the most heroic acts. People like Lars, Hans, and Mrs. Vos, who risked their own lives to save Jews in wartime Europe, were later recognized and honored as "Righteous Gentiles."

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Two kindhearted, confirmed-bachelor brothers take in an endangered little Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Historical fiction for children is fraught with traps, and none more so than those introducing young readers to Holocaust history. This novel manages to walk that tightrope, allowing children to learn some grim realities without annihilating their sense of hope or resorting to stereotypes that undermine the ability of the genre to increase readers' empathy. The text's distinctiveness lies in its style: Rather than presenting one protagonist's point of view—as in Lois Lowry's exemplary Number the Stars—the third-person-omniscient perspective allows readers to identify with several characters throughout the tale. Readers feel the terror and sorrow of Beatrix and her mother as Mamma is forced by soldiers to leave the tram that is run by brothers Hans and Lars; they empathize with the brothers during the humorous passages in which the redoubtable neighbor Mrs. Vos teaches them how to care for a little girl; they feel the alternating waves of uneasiness and relief experienced regularly by people under occupation. Most of the detailed action occurs from 1942-1945, but the tale wraps up in 1973, when Beatrix is mother to a 10-year-old daughter. This is a solid addition to one of the most uneven collections of literature for children: Holocaust-related historical fiction. (foreword, afterword) (Historical fiction. 9-12)
The Children's War - Alex Baugh
What makes The End of the Line stand out is that it is written from the point of view of the two brothers and yet it is a thoroughly appealing, totally engaging book for young readers accustomed to reading about protagonists their own age.
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
This is a small miracle of a book in that it tells the story of a hidden child in World War II in a manner that emphasizes the love of a constructed family instead of the horrors of the war. The story stars with two middle aged Dutch brothers, Hans and Lars, that some might call simple. Their routine lives revolve around their jobs on the Amsterdam tram. One day, a Jewish woman and child get on the train and their lives are irrevocably changed. When the Nazis capture the mother, five-year-old Beatrix is left alone. The kind-hearted brothers take her into their home without considering the consequences of harboring a Jewish child. They enlist the help of their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Vos, to teach them how to care for the girl. Soon, another neighbor, Lieve, joins their makeshift family circle and the story of Holland during the war becomes a backdrop for the more important story of what really makes a family. Fragile, abandoned Beatrix is an accessible character for young readers. The historic details of life in Holland under Nazi occupation are so clearly explained as to blur the lines between fiction and reality. Young readers will learn about shortages, deprivation, and the Hunger Winter in which Dutch citizens were reduced to eating tulip bulbs to prevent starvation. There is another lesson in the way in which Hans and Lars remarkably rise to the occasion by protecting a child whom fate places in their path. An afterword provides a timeline for Holland’s wartime involvement. This book is a stellar example of how to introduce children to the brutality of the war and the unassuming nobility of Righteous Gentiles who risked their own lives to rescue strangers. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up—The Nazi occupation of Holland is underway when five-year-old Beatrix and her mother ride the tram, destined for a mystery lady in a green hat who will keep Beatrix safe. That plan is stymied when the Nazis board and round up all the Jewish occupants, including her mother; Beatrix is left behind. She is claimed by the tram's ticket-taker, Lars, as his niece. Lars and his brother, Hans, have led sedate and uneventful lives but suddenly they have put their own existence in danger by claiming Beatrix. With the help of their neighbors, Mrs. Vos and Lieve van der Meer, Lars and Hans do all they can to keep the little girl safe. This is an adequate story to add to the wide canon of Holocaust historical fiction. McKay has a pleasant voice and there is certainly a sweetness to the story of two older men, set in their ways, suddenly raising a young girl. The writing lacks intensity, however, and the characters' personalities are mild. Voices are indistinguishable from one another, particularly Lars and Hans. This would make a suitable introduction to the Nazi Occupation for young readers as the chapters are brief, and the story moves at a brisk pace while the violent action takes place off the page. It briefly introduces topics such as "righteous gentiles" and may leave readers seeking more information. Unfortunately, there are better options, in both fiction and nonfiction, for getting this important historical information across to readers.—Sarah Wethern, Douglas County Library, Alexandria, MN

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Product Details

Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

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