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Theo

by Barbara Harrison

Published by Clarion, 1999
166 pages
ISBN: 0-899-19959-3

Ages 11 - 14

Theo and his older brother Soc, a member of the resistance, flee from Athens as soon as the Nazi regime announces that all orphans will be sent to Germany. It is 1943, and the war raging across Europe has already transformed life for the two. Theo's companion is Karagiozis, a legendary folk puppet of the Greek shadow theater, to whom he gives his voice. It is Karagiozis who hears about the ten-year-old's fears and loneliness. And it is Karagiozis who gives Theo courage to confront his growing hatred of injustice. Throughout his childhood, Theo has possessed the capacity for compassion and empathy. Now Theo must decide under which circumstances, if any, he himself will pick up a gun. Within a deeply moral story fully portraying the effects of war on the common people she characterizes so believably, Harrison weaves allusions to the history and culture of ancient Greece. She provides readers with a literal sense of the bird sounds, scents of wild flowers and tastes of provincial foods in the Greek countryside through which Theo moves. Her expertly paced narrative alternates violence with reverie, and action with reflection. Theo retains a purity of heart throughout so that readers can continue to hope he will respond to the immediate horrors with his prior knowledge of good acts. A unique and valuable addition to holocaust literature for young readers. CCBC categories: Fiction for Children (GMK; Feb 21) 1999 Cooperative Children's Book Center


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