This is a simply written tale, aimed at quite a young readership, that exposes the child reader to the very periphery of the Holocaust experience. For those aware of the history, parts of the story are extremely tense: the border crossing from Germany into Switzerland; almost getting on the wrong train when leaving for Paris; and mostly, the family’s decision to settle in France, when the reader knows of the impending German invasion.
Young Anna’s life is turned upside-down when her father, a famous liberal journalist, intelligently chooses to flee Germany days prior to Hitler’s election in 1933. Anna’s growth as a character is indicated strongly in her responses to the things she no longer has: her first birthday away from home, in Switzerland, is a trying disappointment; but by Christmas in France, she has learned to find solace in having her family whole and together. Her one dream is to become famous, like her father, and the book culminates—in the midst of yet another relocation—with her hopes being validated: she had read that all famous people had “difficult childhoods,” and far from feeling sorry for herself, is gratified when her Uncle Otto comments how it must be “quite difficult to spend one’s childhood moving from country to country” (257).