This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Saturday Rave: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.

I read this marvellous autobiographical novel many years ago. Could it really, I'd begun to wonder, have been as good as I remembered?

Well, I've just re-read it, and it's even better.

Anna (like the writer of the book, Judith Kerr) lives in 1930s Berlin with her Jewish family. Not long before the election that will bring Hitler to power, Anna's father receives a phone call warning him that his passport was about to be taken away. 

He packs a knapsack and leaves at once, and his wife and two young children follow him very soon afterwards.

Anna's beloved Pink Rabbit is left behind. Anna expects Pink Rabbit to be posted to her at the family's new address in Switzerland, but the family's possessions are confiscated by the Nazis: Pink Rabbit is gone forever.

This is a story about refugees, and also about trying to scrape a living in foreign countries during the 1930s Depression.

Anna's life is full of difficulties and bafflement. The evil of the Nazi regime is shown brilliantly, vividly, though without Anna (or the reader) witnessing any violence at all. 

But for all this When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a happy book. Anna seizes the opportunities being a refugee provides with interest and some glee, and although there are moments of self-pity and even despair, the family's difficulties are battled bravely.

Judith Kerr is ninety two, now, and still working as a writer and illustrator (the picture books about Mog the cat are hers).

And I think that here we have an rare example of a great life, as well as a great book.

Word To Use Today: pink. No one's exactly sure where this word comes from, but it might be to do with pinkeye, which nowadays is usually called conjunctivitis. Yes, it's true that conjunctivitis isn't actually pink; the term pinkeye comes from the Dutch pinck oogen, meaning small eyes, because of the inflamation.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. It's good to have a chance to pay homage, sometimes, isn't it.