Nannestad, Katrina

We Are Wolves

(2) 4-6 Illustrated by Martina Heiduczek. At school in East Prussia in the early 1940s, Liesl is taught to revere Adolf Hitler. When Germany wins the war, which she believes is inevitable, fountains will run with lemonade and ice cream, and every family will be given a puppy. Then, in 1944, Russian soldiers come; Germany has lost the war; Liesl, her brother, and their baby sister must flee in the dead of winter. Separated from their mother, they live "like wolves" in the forest, subsisting on frogs, squirrels, and wild plants; sometimes they're lucky enough to find unharvested potatoes or to work for Russian soldiers. The children eventually find refuge with a loving Lithuanian couple. To be safe, however, they must erase all vestiges of their German background. What will remain of her, Liesl wonders, once she has relinquished even her native language? As Liesl begins her slow unlearning of Nazi propaganda and comes to understand the atrocities against which she had been sheltered, she gains true insight into who she is--and who she can become. The incidents and challenges involved in the children's survival (based on true events of the Wolfskinder, or "wolf children," who, per an introductory note, were themselves "victims of war") are both sobering and enlightening.


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