THE SHADOW CHILDREN by Steven Schnur

THE SHADOW CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Shortly after the end of WW II, 11-year-old Etienne visits his grandfather's farm for the summer and discovers a shameful secret that the French village has been hiding since the war. As Grand-père drives Etienne from the station in his wagon, they pass a group of refugee children on the road. Etienne is used to these ragged and forlorn strangers and likes to give them food and money, but Grand-père drives by them as though he doesn't see them. Etienne thinks his grandfather is being heartless, but the truth is that Grand-père doesn't see the refugees because they are not there: They all died in concentration camps. During the war, many children had sought refuge in Grand-père's isolated rural community, but when the Nazis presented the village with an ultimatum, the townspeople gave the children up in order to save themselves. Now they try to forget the past, but the children return to exhort Etienne, who is himself half-Jewish, to remember what was done to them. They do not blame the townspeople for handing them over to the Nazis, but for denying what happened. Because of Etienne, their memory will live on. Without horrific photographs or artifacts, Schnur (This Thing Called Love, 1992, etc.) dramatizes the importance of remembrance.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Morrow