The Shadow Children by Steven Schnur

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"Maybe for us it's over. But not for the children. For them it will never be over."

One summer after the Second World War, Etienne visits his beloved grand-father near the French town of Mont Brulant. A two-month vacation stretches before Etienne -- with hay to be turned, pears to be harvested, and old books to help repair. Best of all are the fields and woods around Mont Brulant, waiting to be explored on the back of Grand-père's horse.

But this year Mont Brulant isn't the same as Etienne remembers it. Why don't any young people live in the town now? he wonders. And why doesn't anyone else notice the refugee children begging along the road?

Then one day Etienne discovers children living in the woods -- children named Isaac and Sarah, and many others. Grand-père says he's imagining things. But why is Grand-père so worried about the markings that suddenly appear on Etienne's forearm?

As Etienne unravels the truth of what happened to the children of Mont Brulant, he and Grand-père must together confront an unspeakable tragedy. Steven Schnur's remarable tale of guilt and rememberance will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.


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In His Own Words..."The summer I turned eight my family moved from the suburban town I had lived in all my life to a neighboring community six miles away. For my parents, who had spent their childhood fleeing Hitler, the change meant little more than an additional bedroom or two for their growing family of four sons. But for me, the sudden loss of neighborhood and friends seemed an upheaval as great as any they had endured during the 1930s. In an instant I became an outsider, a stranger, the new kid on the block. The shock awakened me from the cozy sleep of infancy and thrust me overnight into the great world of newspapers and radios and books, a world full of mystery and menace and wonder."It was a fascinating and fearsome time to wake up: John Kennedy, was about to be elected president, the threat of nuclear war hung in the air, and the first cautious explorations of outer space coincided with the first tentative revelations of the horrors of the Holocaust."With the Cold War providing the persistent background hum of impending annihilation, a hum that filled the ears of every child of the fifties, I began to learn the I Holocaust's terrible lessons of mail's limitless capacity for evil. The more I read about those awful years, the more I realized that events played out on the world stage had enormous impact on my own life. Though my immediate family had escaped Unscathed from the flames if Europe, many distant relatives had not. And had it not been for the war, I would have grown up not as an American in a suburb of New York City but, like my parents, as a German citizen of Berlin or Dresden."There was one other central constellation in the firmament of my youth: love. I was blessed to fall in love early in life and remain that way. Within days of meeting my future wife I knew we would one day marry. Eight years later, after high school, college, and postgraduate studies, we did. A long period of infertility followed, but the., with the swiftness of a miracle, three children were born: a daughter and boy/girl twins. Ever since I have thought of myself as a father first; everything else has become secondary."Writing for me has always been an expression of gratitude, an outgrowth of the impulse to give thanks for love received, for children born, for the miraculous existence of the imagination. When I write for adults I often do so in a state of wonder, transfixed by blessings. When I write for children I try to recapture the eight-year-old boy I once was, a boy filled with a passionate interest in the unfolding world around him. And finally I write in the hope of leaving behind a legacy of thought and feeling that my children might one day mine, if not for answers at least for solace, in the recognition that we traveled the same road of doubt and discovery." Herbert Tauss is an internationally known artist whose work has been awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals from the Society of Illustrators. He has illustrated limited-edition classics published by the Franklin Library. An instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at Syracuse University's master's program, Mr. Tauss lives in Garrison, New York.
Published October 18, 1994 by HarperCollins. 96 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Travel, War. Fiction

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Shortly after the end of WW II, 11-year-old Etienne visits his grandfather's farm for the summer and discovers a shameful secret that the French village has been hiding since the war.

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Publishers Weekly

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The Holocaust becomes the occasion for a ghost story in this troubling novel. Etienne, the 11-year-old narrator, is spending a summer with Grand-pere in rural France. He is puzzled when Grand-pere doe

Oct 03 1994 | Read Full Review of The Shadow Children

Publishers Weekly

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At last Etienne learns that during WWII, about 1000 Jewish children sought refuge in those woods-until the Germans forced the villagers to deliver them to certain death.

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