Stars of the Night: The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport by Caren Stelson, illustrated by Selina Alko

Published by Carolrhoda Books

Summary:  Beginning in Czechoslovakia in 1938, the story follows five children from a peaceful happy life to a period of increasing restrictions and hardships for Jews.  When Germany occupies Czechoslovakia in March 1939, the children’s parents have a difficult decision to make. The kids are only vaguely aware of the man who’s offering them the chance to escape to safety. Before long, the families are at the Prague railway station, saying good-bye to their children as they board trains that will take them to England.  The children soon learn that the man has made arrangements with British families to take them in.  As the years pass, they grow more comfortable in their new homes, but worry as they hear news of Czechoslovakia.  Their fears are confirmed at the end of the war when most learn that their parents have not survived.  Fifty years later, they finally learn the identity of the man who saved them–Nicholas Winton, the British man who rescued 669 children.  Includes a timeline and extensive information on the Kindertransport Movement, Nicholas Winton, the five children, and The Children’s Memorial in Jerusalem, as well as additional resources, and notes from the author and illustrator.  40 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  The beautiful illustrations, riveting story, and extensive back matter make this a compelling nonfiction book that anyone with an interest in World War II or the Holocaust will want to get their hands on.  

Cons:  This story is told from the children’s perspective, so Nicholas Winton is simply a mysterious man, as he would have been to them.  His story is so interesting, though, that it seems a shame to relegate him to the back matter.  For a different perspective, be sure to check out Peter Sis’s Nicky and Vera.

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