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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in World War Two

Writer and artist: Helen Bate
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books

What's it about?
Peter is a boy living in Budapest in the 1930s. His family is Jewish and they fall victim to the anti-Semitic laws of those decades. It's told from Peter's point of view and he documents their lives through the war and in the years following. Peter and his family are real and the events shown in the story are true.

What's good about it?
It's aimed at kids (aged 8-12 years) and it's an honest but not scary account of life in second world war era Budapest. It can be given to kids in order to start up a wider conversation about fascism and war, or it can be read purely for interest. There is enough in there to prompt further learning if necessary. As an adult, when you know the background it is really chilling, but for kids who don't know the wider context, it shouldn't be upsetting. I found it very emotional.

There is historical background at the end of the book along with a moving photograph of a sculpture to commemorate those Jews killed by the Nazis.

Overall, this is a strong book and a decent addition to World War Two literature.

What's bad about it?
I don't have anything to complain about.

What's the art like?
There is a nice variety in the types of panels and story telling mechanisms here. Some pages are a mix of art and text panels which keeps the reading experience varied. Others are all art panels with no out of text narration. These ones are a lovely example of a comic narrative.

Some art panels replicate the shape of the action they are depicting, e.g. a bomb crashing in through a window also breaks the side of the panel. This draws you into the story giving a more immediate connection.

In two pages the frame of the house we are peeking into forms the shape of the panel we containing the house. It makes the read fresh and keeps your attention.
People are drawn very simply but with power. We can see their emotions and their concerns clearly in each panel. All in all, it's a really enjoyable visual read.

More information
Pricing and ISBN information can be found on the Otter-Barry website, here. 
Read an interview with the creator here.

Disclaimer - this copy was sent to me free of charge by the publisher for reviewing. All views are my own and honest.

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