Wolf Children by Paul Dowswell
  

Wolf Children

Written by Paul Dowswell

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

In a Nutshell: Survival and sacrifice in post-war Berlin

A powerfully thought-provoking portrayal of life among the ruins of post-war Berlin, as experienced by sixteen-year-olds, Otto and Helene, and the younger children in their charge.

Berlin, July, 1945. Hitler is dead, but the fight isn’t over for the band of parentless children at the heart of this hard-hitting novel. Otto and Helene live in an abandoned hospital, with responsibility for four younger children: Otto’s brother Ulrich, little Hanna, and twins Klaus and Erich. While everyday life is a fight for survival (food must be foraged and haggled; disease is rife), they all hope that ‘human decency’ will return now the Americans and British have arrived in the bombed-out city. All except Ulrich, that is, for he remains zealously devoted to the Nazis, and is determined to work for the Werewolf resistance. As the group battle on, some of them hoping their parents might be found, they must deal with many dangers and dilemmas, not least Ulrich who faces having to make the ultimate sacrifice.

As also demonstrated in his previous novels (for example, see Bomber and Sektion 20), the author has real flair for making thoroughly researched historical fiction accessible, relevant and utterly gripping. Alongside being a perfectly plotted page-turner, Wolf Children will surely also provoke much debate and discussion. ~ Joanne Owen

Synopsis

Wolf Children by Paul Dowswell

It is July 1945, Hitler's Third Reich has fallen, and Berlin is in ruins. Living on the edge of survival in the cellar of an abandoned hospital, Otto and his ragtag gang of kids have banded together in the desperate, bombed-out city. The war may be over, but danger lurks in the shadows of the wreckage as Otto and his friends find themselves caught between invading armies, ruthless rival gangs and a strange Nazi war criminal who stalks them ...

A climactic story of truth, friendship and survival against the odds, Wolf Children will thrill readers of Michael Morpurgo and John Boyne.

Reviews

Praise for Auslander

He is a brilliant historical novelist. Dowswell shows us a side of Nazi Germany rarely seen ... a heart-stopping read Sunday Telegraph

A superlative, at times almost agonisingly compelling, piece of historical fiction ... The climactic escape to freedom is pure muck-sweat tension Financial Times

Praise for Sektion 20

A terrific book Bookseller

About the Author

Paul Dowswell

Paul Dowswell cemented his position as one-to-watch in the world of children’s historical fiction with his much-acclaimed WWII novel, Ausländer. Throughout all of his fiction, Paul weaves meticulous research into thrilling narrative that will engage young readers.

A former senior editor with Usborne Publishing, Paul Dowswell is now a full-time author. He has written many non-fiction titles, two of which were shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. Powder Monkey, his first novel, was published to huge critical acclaim. Ausländer was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Red House Children’s Book Award. He currently lives in Wolverhampton with his family.

Paul on his inspiration for Cabinet of Curiosities:

The Cabinet of Curiosities is set in 16th Century Prague, during the reign of Rudolph II. Lukas Declercq, fleeing the Inquisition in his native Ghent, arrives in the city in 1598 to be apprentice to his Uncle, court physician Anselmus Declercq.

Seeking company away from the staid confines of the castle, Lukas is drawn to the excitement of the city’s darker side. He becomes an unwitting pawn in the battle to control what people are permitted to say and think. (Here the story shares some ground with my previous book Ausländer about a teenager in Berlin during the Second World War.) Ultimately, Lukas learns how to make his own choices between
right and wrong, and that the answer is rarely clear-cut.

The idea behind the story was inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s fruit ’n’ veg portrait Vertumnus, of Rudolph II. A culture which produced something so magnificently strange and original sparked further investigation.

I visited Prague and the Castle whilst researching the book. Woodcuts and engravings from the era show that much of the city remains from Rudolph’s time. The contents of his Cabinet of Curiosities – an extraordinary collection of mechanical and scientific instruments, specimens, paintings, and relics – are well documented. Four huge rooms contained everything from astrolabes and orrerys to Dürer’s famous watercolour of a young hare, and, supposedly, nails from Noah’s Ark and feathers from a phoenix. Much of the Cabinet was scattered to the four corners of Europe when the Castle was looted by Swedish Troops in 1648 during the 30 Years War. A fraction remains in Prague. The rest can be found in museums and art galleries around the world.

Rudolph was plagued throughout his life by severe depression – all the more reason to admire his open mindedness, tolerance, and passion for art and science. In a Europe haunted by the Inquisition, his Prague was an oasis of free-thinking where Catholics, Protestants and Jews lived side by side. Here, natural philosophers could investigate and share their knowledge of the newly-emerging sciences without fear of being executed as heretics. This was an age, after all, where an astronomer could be burned at the stake for stating that the Sun was at the centre of the Solar System rather than the Earth. In his patronage of alchemy and fascination with the world, Rudolph was an early champion of the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century.

Photo credit David Rann

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Book Info

Format

Paperback
288 pages

Author

Paul Dowswell
More books by Paul Dowswell

Author's Website

www.pauldowswell.co.uk/

Publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Publication date

24th August 2017

ISBN

9781408858516

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