This book was first discovered in the school library and I have since been able to read a copy from our local public library (yes, there are still some left in this county).

Set in the 1940’s during the Nazi occupation of Denmark during the second World War, we read about Bamse (‘Teddy’), his family and friends as they come to terms with the dramatic and dangerous times they find themselves in. It is fiction based on fact: a small nation overwhelmed by a large modern army; persecution of Jews; acts of resistance both large and small. We learn that blanket distinctions, e.g. Germans=bad, Danes=good, simply were not true. In fact, many people simply acted more out of fear than of malice – though there was plenty of malice to go round. We also learn how the vast majority of Jews were saved from the concentration camps and sent to neutral Sweden with the help of bravery shown by Danish citizens and sympathetic German soldiers. All this as experienced and seen through the eyes of a young boy whose childhood comes to be characterised by some tough lessons.

As a children’s book it took me less than a day to read, even with other duties to do. The author is probably better known as a comedian and as a radio presenter. Here, we learn through fiction and the end notes, something of her Danish family’s history and, for me at least, some of a largely forgotten or ignored part of the history of World War II. I would recommend this book for anyone 9 years, or so, and up; particularly to broaden their historical knowledge, but it is a good story as well.

Overall, I think I would give it fours stars or 7 and a half out of ten.

“Hitler’s Canary” by Sandi Toksvig

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