Mor­ris Gleitzman
  • Review
By – January 10, 2012
THEN is the sec­ond in a series of books about the Holo­caust told from the per­spec­tive of Felix, a ten-year-old boy. The first book in the series is enti­tled ONCE. Every chap­ter of the series starts with the first word of the title of the book. It is not only an effec­tive ploy but it moves the plot beau­ti­ful­ly. Felix has escaped from an orphan­age that his par­ents, book­sellers, put him into to escape from the Holo­caust. It is now 1942 and Felix and Zel­da, a sev­en-year-old girl he has saved, are hid­ing in the for­est. Zelda’s par­ents have been killed by the resis­tance while Felix was watch­ing. A woman who lives in a house out­side the for­est takes them in and hides them, pre­tend­ing to be their moth­er. Felix and Zel­da have fright­en­ing and dan­ger­ous expe­ri­ences and the read­er is drawn into wor­ry­ing about them. The sus­pense increas­es and cul­mi­nates in a star­tling finale. At first, Felix does not under­stand what is hap­pen­ing to his world but he even­tu­al­ly sees what life is like under the Nazis. The series reminds me of the book The Boy in the Striped Paja­mas but the char­ac­ters, sto­ry and writ­ing are more believ­able in the Gleitz­man books. I love this book because it tells the sto­ry from the per­spec­tive of a child; there is no ide­al­iza­tion and we feel we are in the adven­ture along with Felix. It is help­ful to read these nov­els in the order of pub­li­ca­tion. Anoth­er book in the series enti­tled NOW is com­ing out in 2012. There is an author’s note to the read­er at the end of the book telling the read­er that he doesn’t write from per­son­al his­to­ry because imag­i­na­tion gives him the abil­i­ty to grasp the unimag­in­able”. He also rec­om­mends his web­site and a bib­li­og­ra­phy to be found there. This book is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 10 and up. 

Addi­tion­al Titles in the Series

Bar­bara Sil­ver­man had an M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s Uni­ver­si­ty. She worked as a children’s librar­i­an at the Cor­pus Christi Pub­lic Libraries and at the Cor­pus Christi ISD before retir­ing. She worked as a vol­un­teer at the Astor Juda­ic Library of the Lawrence Fam­i­ly JCC in La Jol­la, CA. Sad­ly, Bar­bara passed away is 2012.

Discussion Questions