Nesbet, Anne Cloud and Wallfish, 400 pages. Candlewick, 2016. $17. Content: G.
One day Noah Weller is a fifth grader at school in the U.S. Later that day he is Jonah Brown, heading to East Berlin, Germany in 1989. He’s not sure why his parents have taken him to a new country, but he does know rule number one: They are always listening. As he tries to adjust to his new life, Noah (Jonah) meets a girl, Claudia, living with her grandmother in their same apartment building. While she is as cautious and secretive as everyone else in East Berlin, she does want to be friends, which is what Jonah (Noah), desperately needs. Only by keeping his eyes and ears open and his mouth shut can Jonah figure out how to navigate this strange new world, and even that may not be enough to keep him out of trouble.
Finding a reader context for this book is a major problem. Elementary students are not taught enough about the Cold War to understand or care about the plot of this book and while the Fall of the Berlin Wall maybe be pretty exciting, it is not far enough in the past to have become an integral part of the current historical events that students know or care about. While older students (middle school or high school) may know about the Cold War or the Berlin Wall, they will care very little for the fifth grade protagonist. I just cannot see this book finding its place in a school setting; please feel free to tell me if you have any ideas.
NOT RECOMMENDED. Cindy, Library Teacher