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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Fly Away Home
by Christine Nostlinger
Age Range: 12+
Austria during the last months of the Second World War; eight-year-old Christel Göth is living in Vienna under the Russian occupation. When their home is gutted by a bomb, the family – including her father who has deserted from the army while hospitalised – take refuge in a large suburban villa just outside the city.
Christel is a feisty young girl who develops a toughness that becomes a necessary part of her survival. She steals cigarettes from under the noses of the Russians for her father, explores the abandoned villas and raids their cellars for food to supply her family with, makes friends with Cohn, the Russian cook billeted with them, and even steals the Russian major’s revolver!
This is an autobiographical novel by Christine Nöstlinger, one of Austria’s finest children’s writers. It is an unsentimental account, sometimes sad, sometimes funny and although she does not dwell on gory details, nothing is evaded. It is important to read different perspectives of events that happened during the Second World War and to understand them. Eloquently translated by Anthea Bell.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)