Kim's Reviews > Brave Deeds

Brave Deeds by Ann Alma
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's review
Aug 17, 2009

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bookshelves: children-s-literature, fiction, historical-fiction, reviewed-for-slj
Read in May, 2008

Gr 4-7-Straddling the divide between fiction and nonfiction, Brave Deeds tells the true story of two Dutch resistance fighters through the eyes of a fictitious 11-year-old. In the fall of 1944, the anonymous narrator's parents must flee the Nazis, and she is taken in the middle of the night from their Rotterdam home to spend several months with the Braals. Frans Braal, a conscientious objector before Germany invaded Holland in 1940, is credited with leading the Dutch Resistance Movement on the island of Voorne. Together, he and his wife transformed their remote house, Het Buitenhuis, into a safe haven for all manner of refugees, risking their own lives and the lives of their young children in the process. At times, there are almost 30 adults and children living together. The day-to-day life at Het Buitenhuis is well described, but details about how Braal pulled off his various resistance exploits are absent. The author is a friend of the family about whom she writes, and her information comes directly from the survivors, with no other sources given. Alma's tribute to an ordinary family who took extraordinary risks is commendable, and the numerous photographs from the family's archives are very helpful. However, her decision to use the unnamed narrator to "stand for all children who go through war" weakens the offering and leaves readers feeling disconnected.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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