“Today, children are often told, “Don’t talk to strangers.” Not long ago, however, strangers were thought of as rescuers.”
In World War II, when Germany invaded Holland, a Jewish girl, Beatrix, finds sanctuary in the home of two strangers, Lars and Hans, two old bachelors, who know nothing about children but have compassion upon an abandoned child. Like Lars and Hans, many Dutch ‘Righteous Gentiles’ bravely took in and hid Jewish people, at the risk of their own lives. The confusion at the beginning of the book clearly portrays the difficult choices people have to make in times of war, sometimes without warning. Slowly, Beatrix, a six year old girl, who is a ‘niece’ of the bachelors, begins to adjust as they do to a new family, with the help of a teacher and elderly neighbour. Canadians had an important role in the liberation of Holland, which plays into the ending of this story.
The Forward, titled ‘When Strangers were Saviors,’ provides an explanation of a story that would otherwise be very confusing in the beginning chapters.. The story itself, will speak much more strongly to elementary children about the lives of children during wartime. The Afterward provides too much political information that will be hard for young children to understand. As a result, the target audience of this book should be upper elementary students, though the main character is a young child.