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A Faraway Island (En ö i havet #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,376 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
Two Jewish sister leave Austria during WWII/Holocaust and find refuge in Sweden.

It's the summer of 1939. Two Jewish sisters from Vienna—12-year-old Stephie Steiner and seven-year-old Nellie—are sent to Sweden to escape the Nazis. They expect to stay there six months, until their parents can flee to Amsterdam; then all four will go to America. But as the world war intensifi
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Yearling (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 08, 2013 Louis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio translation of this book. At first, I was going to give this book a "2" rating. Poor Stephie: she is the victim of constant bullying and brutality through the first half of the book. This brutality includes having her braids set on fire with a candle. Besides the bullying, Stephie seems to have a knack for making poor choices based on her stubbornness that cause her endless grief. So one way or another, she is beset by difficulties. It became so frightful that I began to ...more
Oct 02, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Following the invasion of Austria by the Nazis, two young Jewish sisters from Vienna, twelve-year-old Stephie Steiner and her eight-year-old sister, Nellie, are sent away by their parents to safety in Sweden. Their parents hopes the family can reunite soon and travel to a safer country, but shortly after the sisters arrive in Sweden, World War II breaks out in Europe, trapping the two young girls in a strange and foreign country, away from their parents.

The two girls are placed in separate homes
Audience: This book is intended for grades 4th-6th with an interest in historical fiction.

Appeal: What appeals most about the book is it based on real accounts of Jewish sisters being transported from their parents to Sweden to escape the Nazi’s. It has a lot of relativity that 4th-6th graders can understand, with or without siblings.

Application: I would like to apply this book to my classroom by giving a whole lesson on the Holocaust and what things may have been like around that time. Have t
Kelly Veatch
Sep 30, 2016 Kelly Veatch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
I really liked this WW2 story. A little different than others I have read. I will definitely want to read the 2nd book in this series to see what happens to these 2 sisters.
In the 1930’s it was nearly impossible for German and Austrian Jews to obtain visas to gain safe passage to other European countries due to strict immigration laws. After 1938’s Kristallnacht, the grim reality facing Jews in Nazi-controlled countries became much more apparent, and some humanitarian efforts were made to move Jewish people, mainly children, to safety. In 1938, Sweden opened its borders to 500 Jewish children. A Faraway Island is a fictional story based on these events, and tells o ...more
Agnes Sundbom
Mar 26, 2013 Agnes Sundbom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-again
The book "En Ö I Havet" is about the two young girls Steffi and Nellie. They're coming to Sweden from Vienna because of the second world war and you get to follow them when they try to figure out how to live their lives on an island on the Swedish west cost, without friends, family, or anything familiar at all.

The book is written by the Swedish author Annika Thor. She writes for the younger audience, but I wouldn't mind reading it now that I'm older. Thor has also written three other books abou
April Helms
A touching book. Two sisters, Stephie, 12, and Nellie, 7, are sent to Sweden as part of a children's refugee program to escape the Nazi occupation and repression in Austria. Nellie adapts to her family quickly, embracing the language and her adopted parents. Stephie struggles with trying to fit in, while maintaining her Jewish and Austrian identity. Stephie also has an uneasy relationship with her strict adoptive mother, whom she calls Aunt Marta, as well as problems with the school bully. Above ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Jaelyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Faraway Island is an awsome book about two sisters, Nellie and Stephie who have to go to Sweden because of the war. This book really describes the hardships that those kids had to endure, like being seperated, learning Swedish, learning their customs etc. For Stephie this is really hard to do although she is very smart and well rounded. On the other hand Nellie adjusts to the Swedish life easily with the other two children at her home. Stephie gets the shance to go to grammar school but can't ...more
Mar 21, 2011 May rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is my favorite book...i gave sympathy to the 2 sisters who survive without their parents...their parents were not dead but they couldn't flee away from the country but the kids had been fled and they're waiting for their parents to flee to America. i like the scene when the older girl couldn't write a letter to her mom about how she and her little sister want to be with the parents because she worries that her parents would be sad and feel bad about it...she wants her parents not to wo ...more
Audience: Intermediate
Genre: Historical Fiction, Chapter Book-Multicultural
Discussion questions:
Remembering-Name the families with whom Stephie and Nellie Steiner are fostered, and tell how the the families are related.
Understanding-What happened to Stephie's hair on Lucia Day? What was her biggest worry regarding the incident?
Applying-What do you think would have happened to Stephie if she had not lost the compass in her attempt to walk to Goteburg?
Analyzing-Compare at least three aspects of S
Jul 30, 2010 Pblake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twelve-year-old Stephie Steiner and her younger sister Nellie are part of a group sent to Sweden from Austria to escape persecution by the Nazis in 1939. They leave their parents and are sent to live with separate families in a small fishing village on a cold, island. Stephie and Nellie are taken into homes where they are made to feel as if each is part of the family. The girls are able to write to their parents in Vienna where their father is forced to work in a labor camp. Stephie faces bullie ...more
Jun 20, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-fiction
This Batchelder Award winner is the first of 4 books about its main characters, Stephanie, age 12, and Nellie, age 7. These two Jewish sisters are sent, along with nearly 500 others to Sweden from Austria to escape persecution by the Nazis. A Faraway Island follows the life of the girls as they try to adjust to thier new life in a fishing area, and realize they may be separated from their parents for a long time. Stephie has the most trouble adjusting. The story gives us details of a historical ...more
Mar 23, 2016 Maia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book, I'd heard that it was a comfort book, but amazing to read. It is. The narrative instantly hooked me. I don't normally read historical fiction books but the way in which this novel was written heightened my interest in the genre.

I've always loved books which are narrated by the main character, meaning the entire story is from their point of view. This helped me to understand what it was like to be a Jew child at the beginning of the Second World War.
Audrey Henning
I enjoyed this book! It wasn't something I would read again, but it was a nice quick read that will really hit home. It does really tug on your heart strings at some point because one of the main characters has it pretty rough.

It's meant for young readers, but I'm 21 and got into the story pretty well.
Aug 19, 2010 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Touching Holocaust story of two young girls sent from Vienna to a small island in Sweden to escape Hitler in 1939. Only the first book of a series has been translated. The books have been made into a television series in Sweden. Batcheldor 2010 award.
Feb 07, 2010 Shelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth, historical
Stephie and Nellie are evacuated from 1939 Vienna to Sweden. This is an interesting story, not exactly an easy read. I liked Stephie a lot and the writing enough to keep an eye out for the translations of the next three books.
Apr 05, 2015 Marlee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember loving this book, but that was about 5 years ago so I've probably grown out of it by now.
Aug 21, 2011 klara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read and incredibly touching. It was easy but well written, and fits perfect for people around 12 years.
I got stuck and want to read all of the books in that serie.
Audience: Intermediate grades

Appeal: realistic story, WWII, female protagonists, realistic conflicts

Award: 2010 Batchelder award
Oct 27, 2010 Prarthana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is one of the good books i have read!!
Nov 08, 2014 Jaina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blogged
Really 3.5 stars.
My review, which can also be found on my blog.

I just finished A Faraway Island, and I really liked it. It's not going on my top ten list of
favorites, but it was really good. I've already begun the sequel, but I'll review A Faraway Island once I've finished that.

A few days later:
Okay, I have now finished the sequel (The Lily Pond) and am bemoaning the fact that the third and fourth books of the series have not been translated into English yet. You see, they were originall

Questi romanzi sono scritti quasi unicamente al presente, con frasi molto brevi e paratassi. IBS li consiglia per lettori dai 10 anni e sono pubblicati nella collana della Feltrinelli KIDS. Mi sono detta che era questo il motivo di tanta semplicità, poi ho ripensato ai libri che io ho letto più o meno a quell’età. Non volendo lasciarmi ingannare dai ricordi e dalla loro idealizzazione, mi sono riletta gli estratti gratuiti di “Piccole donne”, “Il giardino segreto”, “Il mago di Oz”. No, lo stile
Camille Tesch
Ages 10-12
Перед ними раскинулось бескрайнее свинцово-серое море. Темные тучи были сродни потолку над полом моря. Бурые скалы в шхерах выступали над поверхностью воды. О них бились волны, разбрасывая клочья белой пены. Вдалеке показался темно-красный парус, устремленный от воды к небесам. За ним светлой полоской виднелся горизонт.

«Край земли, – подумала Штеффи. – Здесь край земли».

читаешь, и чувствуешь, что да, книжка слишком проста, наивна, там нет описания ужасов второй мировой, там в основном о пережива
Danielle Larca
In 1938, Sweden offered to take in 500 Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Twelve-year-old Stephie and seven-year-old Nellie Steiner were among those children. Forced to be separated from their parents, Stephie and Nellie were sent to Sweden in hopes that they would be protected from the Nazi invasion. But from the beginning, things don't go as planned. First the girls are separated from each other; Nellie goes to live with warm, loving Auntie Alma while Stephie is sent to ...more
Brenda A.
Apr 15, 2014 Brenda A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the reasons I chose this book is because it was during a time in history that was tragic but also interesting to me, ever since 8th grade I have been very interested in the Holocaust and the people who survived or in this case how children like Stephie and Nellie who were sent away from their parents and country because of Nazi persecution. This book is suitable for young adolescents and anyone who is interested in historical fiction. This book is culturally specific and culturally respon ...more
Mervi Hietanen
Mar 28, 2012 Mervi Hietanen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nuoret
Kuvittele millaista on joutua eroon omista vanhemmista, vieraaseen maahan, jonka kieltä et ymmärrä lainkaan. On vaikea tottua elämään vieraiden ihmisten keskellä ja samalla mieltä kalvaa huoli omista vanhemmista. Sota voi syttyä koska tahansa, ja juutalaisille käy silloin huonosti. Steffi ja Nelli ovat juutalaistyttöjä, joiden elämää Annika Thor kuvaa neljän kirjan sarjassaan.

Kahdentoista vanha itävaltalaistyttö Steffi lähetetään pikkusiskonsa Nellin kanssa turvaan juutalaisvainoilta Ruotsiin. T
Khalid Halabi
Mar 21, 2015 Khalid Halabi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Faraway Island was a book about two girls who are displaced from their parents in Vienna. Stephie and Nellie Steiner travel to Sweden and are adopted by two families that live near each other. The woman who adopts Stephie is very neat, and spends her time cleaning her house. The woman who adopts Nellie is very nice and has two small children. Nellie’s guardian spends a lot of money and time with Nellie, but Stephie’s guardian does not spend much money. Once they become comfortable, Nellie rec ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish
In 1939 two sisters, Stephie and Nellie, are sent to Sweden to avoid persecution by the Nazis. Stephie, the older sister, struggles to keep her Austrian identity while trying to assimilate to Swedish life. Stephie and Nellie are boarded in separate houses, but remain close enough to see each other daily. Both girls struggle communicating with others and making friends. Stephie desperately misses her parents, while Nellie adapts easier to her new family and way of life. Stephie and her foster fat ...more
Apr 13, 2010 Malissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I liked this book but didn't find myself blown away by it. I think that might have been partly because most books that are about children (or adults) affected my Nazi Germany are much more dramatic with harsher topics. While it's sad, of course, that the girls in this book are displaced from their wealthy, Jewish faith, Vienna lifestyle to a much poorer, strict Christian, Swedish one and that they must adjust to a new language and being separated from their parents, it's mild compared to most bo ...more
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Annika Thor grew up in a Jewish family in Gothenburg, Sweden, in the 1950s and 60s. She started work as a librarian and then went on to work as a film and television critic, and finally dedicated herself to writing books, plays, and screenplays for young people. She is one of Sweden’s best known authors for young people. Her books have been translated into many languages and have won many prizes.
More about Annika Thor...

Other Books in the Series

En ö i havet (4 books)
  • The Lily Pond
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  • Öppet hav (En ö i havet, #4)

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