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Cloud and Wallfish

by Anne Nesbet

Published by Candlewick Press, 2016
385 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8803-5

10-13

In the spring of 1989, Noah Keller’s parents uproot him suddenly and dramatically for a move to East Berlin, where his mom has finally been approved to do research on the East German education system. In their new life Noah must follows rules about when and where he can speak openly (never in their apartment). His parents, though, are still his parents, making things a little less unsettling. Noah is not allowed to attend school for months, in part because of his stutter. His friendship with Claudia (Cloud), the girl who lives downstairs, is his salvation. Claudia is creative, unusual, and as lonely as Noah, stuck with her grandmother while her parents are on vacation. When Claudia learns her parents have died in a car accident, she spins an elaborate fantasy to deal with her grief. But it becomes clear to the reader, and eventually Noah, that her parents may, in fact, have escaped East Germany without her. Noah also begins to suspect, correctly, that his mother is a spy. Wonderful storytelling propels a novel in which each chapter ends with a “Secret File” providing factual information that gives historical context to events (e.g., how Germany was divided, the wall, life under communism). Noah and Claudia are heart and soul of this fascinating look at the extraordinary weeks and months leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Ages 10–13)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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