HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: When the Soldiers Were Gone
Author: Vera W. Propp
Cover Illustrator: Dan Andreasen
Publisher: Puffin Books, republished in 2001
ISBN-13: 978-1422353103 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1422353109 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0698118812 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0698118812 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.penguin.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Propp, Vera W. When the Soldiers Were Gone (published in 1999 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Eight-year-old Henk lives on a Dutch farm with Papa and Mama, Paul and Mevrouw Staal, older siblings Miep and Pieter, and cat Kootje. All he can remember is how he could never go to school with Miep and Pieter, and that every time the mean soldiers came he had to hide in the barn or a dirty clothes hamper. But now that the mean soldiers are gone, Henk is surprised to find out that he is really Benjamin, a Jewish child who was hidden from the Nazis, and that his true parents, David and Elsbet Van Sorg, have come to take him away with them.
Will Henk, now Benjamin, be able to make the adjustment to a new family, a new home, and a new life? And how will he start? Based on a true story, much of the background for the plot is told in flashbacks, when Elsbet talks with her son and memories from his early childhood gradually return, including the yellow star on his coat and a frightening encounter in the park with a Nazi soldier who came out of his position and tried to hurt him. When the Soldiers Were Gone is a very moving account. With its use of simple language and the historical facts which are successfully integrated into the narrative, it is a great, age-appropriate introduction to the Holocaust and World War II for pre-teens.