Morris Gleitzman was born in Lincolnshire and moved to Australia in his teens. He worked as a paperboy, a shelf-stacker, a frozen chicken de-froster, an assistant to a fashion designer and more before taking a degree in Professional Writing at Canberra College and becoming a writer. He has written for TV, stage, newspapers and magazines but is best-known for his hugely succesful children's books including Two Weeks with the Queen, Bumface and Once.
Gr 6-9-Jewish orphans Felix and Zelda are just escaping from a train taking them to a concentration camp when they hear shots. After many more ring out, they discover a mass grave filled with bodies of children. Starting with the word "Then," each chapter moves the story forward as Gleitzman picks up where Once (Holt, 2010) left off. Ten-year-old Felix, the storyteller, continues to try to reinvent reality for six-year-old Zelda, whose skepticism and feistiness are undiluted. He wants to protect her, but by doing so, she is terrifyingly outspoken, and her usual "Don't you know anything?" shows her scorn for the hapless beliefs that he is trying to sell her. In the Polish countryside and small village, the children find good and kind people, as well as those who intend harm. Unfolding events are deadly. The danger, the evil, and the need to pretend to comply when asked to appear in the town square to witness more horror contrasts with Felix's childlike thoughts as he makes choices about how to survive. While still a child, all of his innocence is gone by the end, and Felix has learned the power of memory. While the protagonists are young, this book is for older readers as it spares nothing in its imaginings of the losses and horror that were the Holocaust.-Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Praise for Once:'Haunting . . . dangerous and desperate, but also full of courage and hope' - Guardian 'Painfully truthful' - Sunday Times 'Funny and shocking at the same time' - Jewish Chronicle
This harrowing sequel to Once picks up the story of 10-year-old Felix and six-year-old Zelda after their leap from a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp. Once again, Gleitzman captures horrors through the lens of childhood: a mass grave of orphans who have been shot; the bodies of Germans who helped Jews, hanging in the town square; the cruelty of Nazi soldiers taking farmers' animals and livelihoods. Courage and kindness combat these evils as caring adults and sympathetic strangers find ways to shelter, provide for, and protect the children despite obvious risks. Felix continues to use his storytelling skills for survival: inspired by novelist Richmal Crompton, to whom he prays for guidance and protection, Felix constructs alternate identities for himself and Zelda, which allow them to hide in public, for a time. Both children seek to protect each other with a locket showing Zelda's Nazi parents, each secretly putting it back in the other's possession. In a conclusion both devastating and hopeful, the innocence and maturity of Felix's narrative voice conveys human resilience when faced with the impossible. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.