The Right­eous Smuggler

Deb­bie Spring
  • Review
By – July 9, 2012

In 1940, Hen­drik is a typ­i­cal 12-year-old Dutch boy. The son of a fish­er­man, Hen­drik loves the sea. His life revolves around fam­i­ly, school, and friends. Until the Nazis step in. The Right­eous Smug­gler offers a child’s per­spec­tive on the Nazi inva­sion of Hol­land. Through Hendrik’s eyes, read­ers learn how the Nazis infil­trate every part of the Dutch com­mu­ni­ty. Young Hendrik’s sense of dis­may is evi­dent as he sees the mis­treat­ment of his Jew­ish friends. Hen­drick is a ful­ly devel­oped char­ac­ter, a boy whose val­ues are test­ed as he responds to the evil in his world. Hendrik’s emo­tions are gen­uine and believ­able. He seeks not to be a hero, but to help his friends. 

Ulti­mate­ly, Hen­drik and his father risk their own lives to smug­gle Jews out of Hol­land on their fish­ing boat. There is a fair amount of sus­pense and adven­ture, which will appeal to both boys and girls. The author has care­ful­ly craft­ed this his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, with a sat­is­fy­ing end­ing, includ­ing pho­tos that bring the sto­ry to life. 

Like Lois Lowry’s Num­ber the Stars, this book hon­ors non-Jews who saved lives dur­ing the Holo­caust. The Right­eous Smug­gler can pro­vide a spring­board for dis­cus­sions about the Holo­caust, as well as oth­er themes such as peer pres­sure, loy­al­ty, and choos­ing good over evil. This book belongs in every school library. 

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 12

Bar­bara Bietz is a free­lance writer and children’s book review­er. She is cur­rent­ly a mem­ber of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee. Bar­bara is the author of the mid­dle grade book, Like a Mac­cabee. She has a blog ded­i­cat­ed to Jew­ish books for chil­dren at www​.Bar​baraB​Book​Blog​.Blogspot​.com.

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