A clever princess hides a young Jewish girl and her mother during the Holocaust.
The story is told from the point of view of Tilde, a Greek Jewish girl whose mother brings her to the home of Princess Alice von Battenberg to plead for a place to hide. Princess Alice agrees to hide them, even risking her safety to hinder a Gestapo search. In what reads as a cheap twist, Alice reveals her secret deafness to an astonished Tilde. The moment falls flat, in part because readers have already learned of Alice’s deafness in an unnecessary preamble. Despite its basis in true events, the stilted narrative reduces deafness to inspirational set dressing. In a concluding note Kacer explains, “[Alice] was also very smart. She learned to lip-read in three languages with such skill that many people never knew she couldn’t hear.” Regardless of the author’s intent, this correlation perpetuates the common misconception that the ability to communicate using spoken language is a barometer for intelligence. Also impossible to ignore is the book’s resounding silence on the fates of those d/Deaf people who lacked the political connections that shielded Princess Alice. There is a need for literature addressing the experiences of d/Deaf people in the Holocaust, but this book does not rise to the task. Kolesova’s illustrations are attractive but static, neither clarifying nor augmenting the text.
With many higher-quality Holocaust narratives to choose from, this is one to skip. (biographical note, photos) (Picture book. 7-12)