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Monday, January 04, 2016

Gentle 1963 Children's Novel Expansive, Eye-Opening

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For 12 years—his whole life—David has lived in captivity.  When he gets the chance to escape the concentration camp, he takes it.  Although the prospect of leaving everything he's ever known terrifies him, David would rather die quickly from a guard's bullet than slowly waste away in the wilderness.  Much to the boy's surprise, he makes it out of the camp alive.  What now?  He's been told to seek safety in Denmark, but that's miles and miles away from his home in eastern Europe.  How will he travel that far?  For how long can a young fugitive really hope to stay alive?  Wouldn't dying prove an easier path to freedom?

It's only when David arrives in Italy, soaking in the vibrant colors and beauty of that land, that he decides he desperately wants to live.  After seeing such a sight, he "could no longer think of nothing as he had trained himself to do in the concentration camp" (191).  In order to live, however, the guileless David will have to learn some important lessons about trust, friendship, and making his way in the great, wild world with all its charms and dangers.

I Am David, Anne Holm's 1963 novel for young readers, is a quiet, but expansive coming-of-age tale. Like many tales of imprisonment, this gentle story celebrates the beauty of life, even in the midst of great ugliness.  David's remarkable journey opens not just his eyes, but those of the reader as well.  Although the story starts slowly and ends in a most convenient, contrived manner, it's still a memorable, inspiring tale.  Overall, I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie (and it is!), it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. This sounds really wonderful. Heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. I hadn't heard of it but I'll have to add it to my TBR.

  2. I like your rating policy! I use cows (stars basically) for mine but I never considered a movie like rating for it! great review!
    Emily @

  3. Books like this aren't for me but I'm glad you liked it. Way to read more library books.

  4. I'm always looking for great books to read with my son and this one sounds perfect. It's a classic I have never heard of. Thanks for sharing!


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