We Had to Be Brave
Sibert Honor author Deborah Hopkinson illuminates the true stories of Jewish children who fled Nazi Germany, risking everything to escape to safety on the Kindertransport.Ruth David was growing up in a small village in Germany when Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s. Under the Nazi Party, Jewish families like Ruth's experienced rising anti-Semitic restrictions and attacks. Just going to school became dangerous. By November 1938, anti-Semitism erupted into Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, and unleashed a wave of violence and forced arrests.Days later, desperate volunteers sprang into action to organize the Kindertransport, a rescue effort to bring Jewish children to England. Young people like Ruth David had to say good-bye to their families, unsure if they'd ever be reunited. Miles from home, the Kindertransport refugees entered unrecognizable lives, where food, clothes -- and, for many of them, language and religion -- were startlingly new. Meanwhile, the onset of war and the Holocaust visited unimaginable horrors on loved ones left behind. Somehow, these rescued children had to learn to look forward, to hope.Through the moving and often heart-wrenching personal accounts of Kindertransport survivors, critically acclaimed and award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson paints the timely and devastating story of how the rise of Hitler and the Nazis tore apart the lives of so many families and what they were forced to give up in order to save these children.

We Had to Be Brave Details

TitleWe Had to Be Brave
Author
ReleaseFeb 4th, 2020
PublisherScholastic Focus
ISBN-139781338255720
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, World War II, Holocaust, Childrens, Middle Grade, War

We Had to Be Brave Review

  • Alex Baugh
    January 1, 1970
    With the same attention to detail and straightforward writing style readers have come to appreciate from her, Deborah Hopkinson looks at how the rescue operation of Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe, known as the Kindertransport, was able to saved approximately 10,000 young people.In the first half of this fascinating history, Hopkinson details Hitler's rise to power and ties its impact into the lives of a number of Jewish families. Most people don't realize just how widespread With the same attention to detail and straightforward writing style readers have come to appreciate from her, Deborah Hopkinson looks at how the rescue operation of Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe, known as the Kindertransport, was able to saved approximately 10,000 young people.In the first half of this fascinating history, Hopkinson details Hitler's rise to power and ties its impact into the lives of a number of Jewish families. Most people don't realize just how widespread anti-Semitic feelings were in 1930s Germany, but as Hitler became more popular, as his followers increased, many Jews who had believed themselves to be as German as their non-Jewish neighbors began to experience a definite change. For example, Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps for no reason, prohibitions were enacted so that Jews in civil service lost their jobs, Jews couldn't go to the movies or visit a park, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend German schools. But on November 9, 1938, when Nazis attacked and ransacked Jewish homes, business and synagogues, destroying everything in their path and arresting around 30,000 men, many Jews realized things were not going to get better.You may wonder why didn't Jews leave long before Kristallnacht? She points out that many Jews believed they could ride out the tempest of anti-Semitism sweeping Germany, that it would soon blow over. But when many realized they had waited too long, and emigration became almost impossible as borders in other countries began to close, a chance for some parents to save their children opened up. Shortly after Kristallnacht, a plan was put in place in Great Britain to get "unaccompanied children up to the age of seventeen" out of Nazi occupied countries without the usual red tape. (pg. 142) The children were chosen from applications that were filled out by parents, often without the child's knowledge. I cannot imagine the level of courage it must have taken for these parents to send their children into the unknown, but I can certainly understand why they were willing to take the chance to get them out of harm's way.To help the reader fully understand what the Kindertransport was, why parents would be willing to send their children away to live with strangers, most of whom were not even Jewish, Hopkinson uses the personal stories of a number of participants, a cohort group of different ages and backgrounds. Through interviews, written memoirs, and oral histories, as well as an abundance of relevant secondary material, the individual stories unfold, engrossing and increasing the readers understanding of just what these children lived through, before leaving Germany, what it was like traveling to England, and their adjustment to life in a different country, most without knowing even a little English.Once again, Hopkinson has taken a complicated historical event and made it completely accessible to her young readers. And as if the stories of these Kindertransport children aren't compelling enough, she has included an abundance of secondary resources of readers. There are copious photographs throughout the book, as well as sidebars inviting readers to "Stop, Listen, Remember." Back matter includes information about the people in the book, the; Survivors, the Rescuers, and the Historians; a Timeline; a Glossary; Look, Listen, Remember: Resources to Explore; a Bibliography; Newspapers, Articles, and Websites for more investigation; and of course, Source Notes.I've read a lot of books about the Kindertransport, fiction and nonfiction, but this is by far one of the best. As Hopkinson parallels the rise of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism with the lives of Jewish families who ultimately chose to send their children to England, knowing they might never see each other again, she neither romanticizes nor loses her authorial objective eye so that a more complete picture of this little known but no less important historical event emerges.The Kindertransport lasted only a short amount of time, from December 2, 1938 to May 14, 1940. The stories are harrowing, heartbreaking and although they took place 80 years ago, they couldn't be more timely for today's world, as people are yet again flirting with fascism.I can't recommend We Had To Be Brave highly enough.This book is recommended for readers age 9+This book was an ARC gratefully received from the author.
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  • Niki (nikilovestoread)
    January 1, 1970
    We Had to Be Brave is a wonderful, well-written, and well-researched nonfiction book that relates much of the history behind the Holocaust in a way that is accessible and easily understood by kids who haven't learned that much about the topic. It contains a plethora of first hand accounts from children who lived through the Kindertransport. Those firsthand accounts really help children grasp what it would have been like to experience life as a kid before the war, something they can relate to and We Had to Be Brave is a wonderful, well-written, and well-researched nonfiction book that relates much of the history behind the Holocaust in a way that is accessible and easily understood by kids who haven't learned that much about the topic. It contains a plethora of first hand accounts from children who lived through the Kindertransport. Those firsthand accounts really help children grasp what it would have been like to experience life as a kid before the war, something they can relate to and empathize with.Thanks to the publisher and Goodreads for the gifted copy won through a giveaway!
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  • Bonnie Grover
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful nonfiction book to add to your reference shelf. This book is loaded with important facts, Internet resources and photos. It reads like a detailed textbook with a wealth of information. A great place to go for firsthand information and survivor narratives.
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  • Melanie Dulaney
    January 1, 1970
    Deborah Hopkinson records events in Europe, primarily Germany, Poland, and England, following WWI. She gives readers a view of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and slaughter of millions of Jewish people primarily through the lens of children who were rescued from death via the Kindertransport, trains and boats used to bring Jewish children to England before nearly all emigration out of Mazi-controlled countries ended at the start of WWII. Interspersed between her well-researched text and the Deborah Hopkinson records events in Europe, primarily Germany, Poland, and England, following WWI. She gives readers a view of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and slaughter of millions of Jewish people primarily through the lens of children who were rescued from death via the Kindertransport, trains and boats used to bring Jewish children to England before nearly all emigration out of Mazi-controlled countries ended at the start of WWII. Interspersed between her well-researched text and the remembrances of those who were a part of the Kindertransport are many photographs from the era. Each chapter is concluded with a Look, Listen, and Remember box providing the URL to oral histories of survivors. Back matter provides brief biographies of survivors and rescuers, a timeline of major events, and a myriad of resources for additional research. Hopkinson does not make light of Hitler and the Nazi atrocities, but the photographs used and recounting of history is appropriate for upper elementary school students who may not have the maturity to process material of a more stark nature. However, the 300+ pages may be more non-fiction than that age group will read. Older readers will not find that Hopkinson’s sensitivity makes this book too juvenile. Recommended for grades 5 and up. Thanks for the dARC, Edelweiss.
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  • Laura Petrie
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the #kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.--- As a young reader I was always drawn to historical fiction texts about World War II and the Holocaust, and there are so many to choose from. When I saw this available for review, I wanted to push myself a bit outside my comfort zone, as nonfiction always does. I am so glad that I did. We Had to be Brave by Deborah Hopkinson is comprised of stories and voices of children and advocates from this Thank you to the #kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.--- As a young reader I was always drawn to historical fiction texts about World War II and the Holocaust, and there are so many to choose from. When I saw this available for review, I wanted to push myself a bit outside my comfort zone, as nonfiction always does. I am so glad that I did. We Had to be Brave by Deborah Hopkinson is comprised of stories and voices of children and advocates from this time period that were involved in the Kindertransport, an operation aimed at trying to provide escape and refugee for Jewish children. Hopkinson weaves these stories together beautifully to create a timeline for young readers of the events leading up to World War II and the events of the Holocaust. She is able to make clear how certain events, such as Kristallnacht, had an indelible impact on the Jewish community. I was impressed that Hopkinson was able to use middle grade/teen friendly language to explain how Hitler came to power legally and how the Holocaust came to be. This was a concept that I did not come to understand as a learner until much later, and it’s an important lesson to learn if we want to avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. I was inspired by the tenacity and perseverance of the families that sent their children away, despite the certainty that they would never see them again. Likewise, I could not believe what the children went through in order to be safe. Overall, this book sheds light on an aspect of this time period that I knew very little about. It focuses much more on the events leading up to the atrocities that happened in concentration camps, and I think this is a story that needs representation in children’s literature. I learned a lot! This book is perfect for your nonfiction and history fans. Each chapter contains several black and white photographs. I also love that Hopkinson’s texts encourage children to be lifelong researchers. She consistently provides links so that her readers can listen and read more on the topics that capture their interest and passion. I have added this book to my Amazon wishlist, and I hope that you will too!
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  • M.L. Little
    January 1, 1970
    @kidlitexchange Partner: We Had to Be Brave by @deborah_hopkinson. Releases February 4 through @scholasticinc. FIVE STARS AND THEN SOME for this new nonfiction. This was FANTASTIC. Thoroughly researched, easy to understand, engaging, fascinating, superbly written...I could run out of adjectives. Very much my favorite book of 2020. I’ve only read four, but still. Deborah Hopkinson, who deserves all the awards, takes us into the lives of many different real-life Jewish children (most from Germany, @kidlitexchange Partner: We Had to Be Brave by @deborah_hopkinson. Releases February 4 through @scholasticinc. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️FIVE STARS AND THEN SOME for this new nonfiction. This was FANTASTIC. Thoroughly researched, easy to understand, engaging, fascinating, superbly written...I could run out of adjectives. Very much my favorite book of 2020. I’ve only read four, but still. Deborah Hopkinson, who deserves all the awards, takes us into the lives of many different real-life Jewish children (most from Germany, though the book covers a lot of Europe), describing their families and happy childhoods before everything took a detour to hell. Some of these children documented were orthodox, some were Jewish only by birth, and everything in between, but all of them were saved by the heroes and angels of the kindertransport. I had heard of this rescue operation in the late 1930s, but I didn’t know much about how it worked until this book. I learned so much from this book. Oftentimes I prefer children’s nonfiction to ones aimed at adults, because I’m kind of dumb and don’t get much out of the adult ones. But this book was SO INTELLIGENT and well-written it is honestly perfect for all ages. The writing style is at a child’s level yet it is packed with enough facts and history to fascinate an adult. It was moving to me to read the words of these actual children and to discover the fulfilling lives they went on to live after they were saved. Many of them are still alive and advocate for Holocaust education. This book is a beautiful tribute to their lives, as well as the lives of the saints who risked their lives to save them. The book is full of photos and quotes to bring to life the children we read about. I have included my favorite of each. (Look at that angel in the picture.) This book comes out next month and you really, really, really need to get it. Thank you @kidlitexchange for the review copy-all opinions are totally my own.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    First sentence: Imagine getting on a train and leaving your parents and your family behind.Premise/plot: Deborah Hopkinson’s newest nonfiction narrative is about the kindertransport. There are multiple narratives unfolding. First there is a general narrative that is explaining, providing context, giving an overall framework for the book. Second there is a narrative that follows three people, two girls (Ruth David, Marianne Elsley) and a boy (Leslie Brent). But it doesn’t stop there. It offers a First sentence: Imagine getting on a train and leaving your parents and your family behind.Premise/plot: Deborah Hopkinson’s newest nonfiction narrative is about the kindertransport. There are multiple narratives unfolding. First there is a general narrative that is explaining, providing context, giving an overall framework for the book. Second there is a narrative that follows three people, two girls (Ruth David, Marianne Elsley) and a boy (Leslie Brent). But it doesn’t stop there. It offers a third narrative, a sprinkling of other voices, dozens of voices. These voices aren’t dominant exactly, more a background ensemble chorus to the the three soloists. My thoughts: We Had to Be Brave is a compelling introduction for middle graders on up. It gives readers a glimpse, some food for thought, an opportunity to thoughtfully consider the past and contemplate the present and future. There is definitely depth and substance. Definitely feels. Though I will say this it doesn’t dwell in the darkness and sorrow overlong. It is straightforward in what happened. But I didn’t feel it was manipulative to the emotions. I don’t think the goal was to get readers weeping over pages and distraught to go on. You don’t have to push hard to get a reaction. Less is best in some cases. Review the book in hand. Review the book in hand. I am going to try my best. I say this because when you’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books on the Holocaust, it’s hard not to compare, contrast, have favorites, have preferred narrative styles and formats. I thought this was a solid read. But. It left me wanting more, more, more. I wanted fuller biographies and stories. To be fair, this one is great about steering readers to other books, other sites, even videos. The author perhaps wants readers to want more, to dig deeper, keep seeking and researching.
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  • RedPoppyReading
    January 1, 1970
    “We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport” by @deborah_hopkinson should be required reading for everyone. This book shares the personal stories of about 20 Jewish children who survived the Nazis and were evacuated from Nazi occupied Europe to England on the Kindertransport just before World War II broke out. The book starts by sharing the regular childhoods of the children before Nazis took control and then tells the horrors they faced as they were bullied and harassed for “We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport” by @deborah_hopkinson should be required reading for everyone. This book shares the personal stories of about 20 Jewish children who survived the Nazis and were evacuated from Nazi occupied Europe to England on the Kindertransport just before World War II broke out. The book starts by sharing the regular childhoods of the children before Nazis took control and then tells the horrors they faced as they were bullied and harassed for being Jewish. The book shares the stories of those who worked hard and secretly to get out as many Jewish children as possible, and the anguish and devastation of leaving their parents for a country and people they did not know. Few of the Kindertransport children were ever reunited with their parents, almost all of them were killed in concentration camps. The personal stories share the horrors of the Nazis in a way I was never taught in school. Learning these personal stories is absolutely necessary to help us ensure that nothing like this ever happens again and that we open our hearts and borders to refugees. This book is also full of references and information on how to listen to the audio recordings and get more information. Written for ages 8-12, but I think this would be excellent reading for junior high and high school students. I think third grade would be a little young because they don’t have the context of the war. Look for it when it is released on February 4, 2020.Thanks to @scholasticinc for sharing this book with #kidlitexchange and thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book – all opinions are my own.
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  • Jenee
    January 1, 1970
    This is a profound book, and will be incorporated in our family's Homeschool curriculum. I finished it in barely over a day because I could not put it down! As a mother, I can only imagine the heartwrenching decision to send your child alone, to a foreign country - to live with complete strangers- in hopes for a better life; also knowing you would probably never see them again. -And the courage of these innocent youngsters is astounding!I loved the unique format of this book, and how Ms. This is a profound book, and will be incorporated in our family's Homeschool curriculum. I finished it in barely over a day because I could not put it down! As a mother, I can only imagine the heartwrenching decision to send your child alone, to a foreign country - to live with complete strangers- in hopes for a better life; also knowing you would probably never see them again. -And the courage of these innocent youngsters is astounding!I loved the unique format of this book, and how Ms. Hopkinson weaved real, personal stories into the history; leading up to/during/after the Kindertransport. I also appreciated Ms. Hopkinson's 'Look, Listen, Remember' highlights, leading the reader to additional online resources.I plan to suggest this book to my Book Club. It would definitely provide some interesting discussion!
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    As with the same author’s book on the Titanic, I felt the overall impression of the book was considerably lessened by the book design. Larger page size and brighter paper to allow for larger versions of the photos and better ability to see details. I would also have liked more space given to Kindertransport itself rather than what seemed like half the book being spent on the general impacts of Hitler’s rise to power. Perhaps developing the book for a teen rather than middle grade audience would As with the same author’s book on the Titanic, I felt the overall impression of the book was considerably lessened by the book design. Larger page size and brighter paper to allow for larger versions of the photos and better ability to see details. I would also have liked more space given to Kindertransport itself rather than what seemed like half the book being spent on the general impacts of Hitler’s rise to power. Perhaps developing the book for a teen rather than middle grade audience would have allowed for somewhat less space being given to very basic information.Still, there is absolutely no question as to the volume and quality of the author’s primary-source research.
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  • Laura Gardner
    January 1, 1970
    We can't get enough of NF books about the #Holocaust and #WorldWarII and @deborahhopkinson is a master. I found this NF book compulsively readable. It's fascinating to read about the #refugee crisis that Hitler created in the 1930s and the way that the international community responded by taking in Jewish children. Firsthand accounts and interviews along with lots of photographs make this accessible and interesting. Grades 4+.
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  • Valerie McEnroe
    January 1, 1970
    Once again Deborah Hopkinson has outdone herself. She is truly a master storyteller. Very thankful there are authors like her beefing up the children/teen nonfiction selections.So far this is the best book I have read for children on the Kindertransport. I would say it is geared toward grade 6 and up based on the length, although it isn't as long as it first seems. The description says it has 368 pages. In reality it has nowhere near that. It's more like 254, with 100 pages of resources. It's Once again Deborah Hopkinson has outdone herself. She is truly a master storyteller. Very thankful there are authors like her beefing up the children/teen nonfiction selections.So far this is the best book I have read for children on the Kindertransport. I would say it is geared toward grade 6 and up based on the length, although it isn't as long as it first seems. The description says it has 368 pages. In reality it has nowhere near that. It's more like 254, with 100 pages of resources. It's definitely doable for upper elementary. I have a lot of students obsessed with the Holocaust, mainly because I have brought it to their attentions, and I know they would read this. The print is larger than normal and there are lots of photographs to boot.Hopkinson tells the story mainly through the voices of three children, bringing each one forward one at a time throughout the book. She scatters in other children's stories when more detail is needed to see the full picture. She does a thorough job of describing the years leading up to December 1938 when the first train of children left for England. She describes how, little by little, the Jewish people first lost their freedoms and how that eventually turned into outright hatred. At first it was indirect. Jewish people couldn't attend public parks or theaters. Non Jews were forbidden from shopping at Jewish owned businesses. Children could no longer attend public schools. All of this was tolerable until it became personal. Hitler Youth would taunt child in the streets. Homes were invaded and belongings destroyed. Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, was the final straw. In November 1938, in retaliation for the death of a government official by a Jew, businesses, synagogues and private homes of Jews across Europe were destroyed. Jews who thought the insanity would end and things would go back to normal waited too long. Emigration lists were now very long and getting out was a long shot. Thankfully, a small group of devoted, kind-hearted people took up the cause and found a way to get the children out. Great Britain stepped up, agreeing to take them in. For almost a year, children left their families to go stay with strangers in a foreign country. It was hard. Some children suffered from loneliness and homesickness for a long time. All of them thought they would see their families again, but most never did. In all, about 1500 lives were saved through this program.An excellent book for tweens and teens who want an introduction to the details of Hitler's reign of terror and how the determination and self-sacrifice of a few could make such a huge impact on innocent lives. Highly recommend.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus]The Holocaust Unit our 8th grade does requires a LOT of fiction titles, and I do have students who want to read nonfiction on the topic. This is certainly a fantastic book (everything Hopkinson does is great), but it's on the long side and I may not purchase. It would not see a lot of circulation, so I'll recommend students who need it request it from the public library.
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  • Claire L
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a solid 3.5. The stories were interesting and the writing was pretty good. When I picked up the book and read the title I thought this would be all about Kindertransport but it was more a collection of stories about ww2 in general. That isn’t bad, I liked those stories but I’d like to note that only like 1/2 was really devoted to Kindertransport
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    This book is great. At least the ARC I got at ALA MW 2020 is. That being said, the best part of it are the photos. I find the same photos in many WW2 books (I have read hundreds) but this one has completely unique photos. They're amazing.
  • Juliana B.
    January 1, 1970
    Overall I liked this book. It was very informative and had good writing. I liked how the book shared the stories of many children instead of just showing one child's journey. My one complaint is that the perspective can be slightly confusing when switching from 3rd person to 1st person.
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  • Sydney
    January 1, 1970
    “it is a sad fact that we have come to accept the horror of man’s inhumanity to man as commonplace.”
  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't realize this book was written for children until I started reading it. A great book about a lesser-known part of the Jewish relief efforts.
  • Nancy Hollingsworth
    January 1, 1970
    Children rescued. Compassionate people. Risk-takers.
  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Crazy. This book is so very enlightening. The stories and truths are almost unbelievable.
  • Deborah Hopkinson
    January 1, 1970
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