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The Whispering Town
Cover of The Whispering Town
The Whispering Town
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The dramatic story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden.

It is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to neutral Sweden. The soldiers patrolling their street are growing suspicious, so Carl and his mama must make their way to the harbor despite a cloudy sky with no moon to guide them. Worried about their safety, Anett devises a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor.

Based on a true story.

The dramatic story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden.

It is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to neutral Sweden. The soldiers patrolling their street are growing suspicious, so Carl and his mama must make their way to the harbor despite a cloudy sky with no moon to guide them. Worried about their safety, Anett devises a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor.

Based on a true story.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Listen
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    3.0
  • Lexile:
    530
  • Interest Level:
    LG
  • Text Difficulty:
    K - 2


About the Author-
  • Jennifer Elvgren, award-winning author of The Whispering Town and Josias, Hold the Book, is a former print journalist who finds her story ideas in real life. She lives in Albemarle County, Virginia. With her husband, three children Caspian the border collie, Copperfield the foxhound, and Goodnight Moon the American quarter horse.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine This short work, based on a true story, is superbly recounted by narrator Elizabeth Cottle. In 1943, in Nazi-occupied Denmark, Anett and her family shelter a Jewish mother and her son, Carl. Cottle deftly captures Anett's determination as she obtains food and library books for the refugees. She also conveys Carl's fear and hope as well as the threatening aggression of the Nazis. Sound effects of plates and cutlery, squeaky doors, and animals convey a sense of place. A neighborhood effort to spirit away the pair to Sweden provides a hopeful conclusion while still giving young listeners a picture of the horror of war. S.G.B. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 27, 2014
    Annet's family is part of the Danish resistance, hiding Jews in their cellar until the hidden refugees can escape by boat to Sweden. Unlike many stories set during the Nazi occupation, this one finds its protagonist, who narrates the story, an already accomplished insurgent: when her mother tells Annet, "There are new friends in the cellar," the girl knows whom to go to in the underground for additional food and even books for the young boy sheltering with his mother. These hushed requests inspire Annet to create a kind of whispering chain to guide the Jews to the harbor on a moonless night. Based on real events that unfolded in the Danish fishing town of Gilleleje, it's a story that feels urgent and refreshingly unsentimental. Elvgren (Josias, Hold the Book) never stops her reportorial storytelling for a speech about why these brave people are defying the Nazis—Annet just knows she has to act. Santomauro, who has a distinctly graphic novel sensibility, uses strong ink lines and a rich neutral palette (save for a few splashes of red) to convey a sense of secrecy, high stakes, and profound moral courage. Ages 7-11. Illustrator's agent: Advocate Art.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 1, 2014
    Grades 2-4 *Starred Review* Based on a true incident, this is the story of two families, one Danish, the other Jewish. Young Anett is told by her mother, there are new friends in the cellar. This is no surprise to the girl; the cellar is where Danish Jews are hidden from the Nazis. The new boy, Carl, and his mother are to remain hidden for two nights, until a boat can take them to Sweden. Until then the other villagers provide bread and eggs and even books. The moonless nights make it difficult to evacuate the duo, yet as the Nazis come closer, it becomes clear that they must somehow make their way to the harbor. Then Anett has an idea. That night, the villagers stand in the doorways of their houses, each whispering, this way, and forming a chain that leads Carl and his mother to the first step toward safety. The illustrations have the bold look of a graphic novel and use oversize figures to command attention. Both author and illustrator do an excellent job of bringing both the horror and humanity of this story to a level younger children can understand, and there is much of both: Nazis pounding on doors; Carl giving Anett his most prized possession, a heart-shaped stone, a last gift from his father. An unusual and strong addition to Holocaust literature.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • The New York Times Book Review

    "Rounding out this literary threesome of resistance and escape is 'The Whispering Town,' a picture book written by Jennifer Elvgren and illustrated by Fabio Santomauro. The setting is a Danish fishing village, but one of the book's charms is how little context you need to understand it: There's a war, and Anett's family is hiding refugees and sneaking them to safety by boat to neutral Sweden. Anett's job is to bring food to the Jewish mother and child hidden in her basement, where she finds her way down the dark stairs by following the sound of their whispers. When Anett's father worries that the refugees might get lost in the dark when they flee to the harbor, Anett suggests the whole village whisper directions to them as they go. The publisher of 'The Whispering Town' recommends the book for children ages 7 to 11, but it feels appropriate for reading to very young children as an introduction to the subject of the Holocaust. It's definitely the least harrowing of the three books. The threat to the escaping mother and child is only hinted at in the bales of barbed wire that accompany the Nazi soldiers whenever they appear, in the worrying absence of the father in the Jewish family group, and in the villagers' ominous, repeated warning: 'Stay safe.' Santomauro's thoughtful illustrations, with their restrained colors, subtly remind the reader of the village's determined solidarity." — The New York Times Book Review

Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Lerner Publishing Group
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  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
    Burn to CD: 
    Permitted
    Transfer to device: 
    Permitted
    Transfer to Apple® device: 
    Permitted
    Public performance: 
    Not permitted
    File-sharing: 
    Not permitted
    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Jennifer Elvgren
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