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Cloud and Wallfish
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Cloud and Wallfish

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,224 ratings  ·  308 reviews
Noah Keller has a pretty normal life, until one wild afternoon when his parents pick him up from school and head straight for the airport, telling him on the ride that his name isn’t really Noah and he didn’t really just turn eleven in March. And he can’t even ask them why — not because of his Astonishing Stutter, but because asking questions is against the newly instated ...more
400 pages
Published September 2nd 2016 by Candlewick
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Casey you open the front cover, skip to page 1, and begin looking from left to right over text.
Jeff Morton A family moves to East Berlin so that the mother can conduct PhD research. There, the boy of the family befriends a girl whose parents have died in a…moreA family moves to East Berlin so that the mother can conduct PhD research. There, the boy of the family befriends a girl whose parents have died in a car accident. There is suspicion that stories are not what they seem and sorting out what is true against the background of a crumbling Berlin wall is the conflict, I would say.(less)

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4.05  · 
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 ·  1,224 ratings  ·  308 reviews

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This middle grade novel really surprised me.

1989, the Wall is still up in Berlin, dividing East and West Germany. Noah’s parents volunteered to go to East Berlin to do research, obliging Noah to come along.

Anne Nesbet captures the atmosphere I would imagine was present during those oppressive times beautifully. I felt the uncertainty, sorrow and fear Germans probably felt when the Wall was up, keeping them secluded from the world and, in a lot of cases, their families.

It’s a shame this wasn’t n
Historical fiction is boring. Right? That’s the common wisdom on the matter, certainly. Take two characters (interesting), give them a problem (interesting), and set them in the past (BOOOOOORING!). And to be fair, there are a LOT of dull-as-dishwater works of historical fiction out there. Books where a kid has to wade through knee-deep descriptions, dates, facts, and superfluous details. But there is pushback against this kind of thinking. Laurie Halse Anderson, for example, likes to call her b ...more
Monica Edinger
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My starred Hornbook review here.


Thinking a lot about this one. Very interesting structure. Reviewed for Horn Book.

ETA (9/27/16) The more I read others on this one and discuss it the more impressed I am. So much so that I'm adding it to my Newbery Contender list. Here are a few thoughts I've recently written elsewhere about it:

..... Reviewed it for Horn Book and it is growing in my estimation the more I think about it. (I have firsthand experience living in West Germany as a child in the
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliant. Important and enjoyable. I love children's historical fiction from my lifetime, hf that is about a time that children can ask their grandparents for memories of, hf that is still directly relevant. Sure, older history is relevant, too, but more abstract... let youngsters work backwards, think of it as digging deeper.

This history, I remember. This book got me biting my nails, and crying, and laughing.

I love the small story of Noah/Jonah, and the larger stories of the families' mysterie
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is a wonderful read. It's got a great setting, a smart, thoughtful protagonist, and absolutely fascinating parents.

1. The setting is vividly drawn and the details on the Iron Curtain, from the approved vacation spots to the constant surveillance, are superbly done.

2. Noah is a great protagonist! He's observant, especially when it comes to the effect his stutter has on the people he meets, and he's smart. When he makes a bad decision, it's because he's chosen friendship over whatever warni
One of the better MG historical fiction novels I've read in a while! Although it took me a couple weeks to finish, that's only because I was sidetracked with other items. CLOUD AND WALLFISH is a fascinating tale of 1989 Berlin, with characters that are quirky & engaging. This is definitely a title that should be getting more attention.

One day after school, eleven-year-old Noah Keller is told by his parents they are heading to Berlin; his mother is doing research for children similar to Noah
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is utterly BRILLIANT. It's exhilaratingly smart and fun, a wild ride from the very beginning, when 11-year-old Noah is picked up from school in Virginia by his parents only to be told his name isn't really Noah, he isn't really 11 after all, and they're heading to East Berlin (this is set in 1989, when the Wall was still up) IMMEDIATELY, using an all-new set of names and a made-up history he urgently has to memorize....oh, and that from now on, he can't ask any questions, because SOMEO ...more
Barb Middleton
Young readers will like the spy novel subplot. Many have this book on their Newbery contender lists and I thought the beginning unfolded in a weird and engaging way, but I had issues with the crafting of plot and development of characters. Noah Keller is picked up from school one day only to find his world turned upside down as his parents take him to the airport to live in East Germany for six months while his mom finishes her PhD in studying children with speech impediments. Noah has no warnin ...more
Nov 04, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-to-me
What a great read! I really liked the author's style of writing! Her accurate and artistic descriptions of things that I have felt or thought were so enjoyable to read. Such a great historical fiction. It was full of action & emotion. I loved the way the author gave you a good grip on this time in history that was not strictly factual & dry, but that was engaging and made you not want to put the book down. I really liked the family's relationships in this story. So enjoyed Leah reading t ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Terrific book! The author has a way of putting into words things that you've thought and felt with beautiful word pictures. I loved how the author kept the story interesting without sacrificing the history of the time it was written in. It was so well written that I will be looking into other books written by this author.
Meag McKeron
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a bizarrely wonderful book!

I love WWII historical fiction but have never read anything set in post-WWII Germany. Cloud and Wallfish is just that - the story of kid in 1989 who is torn out of his peaceful American life and brought to live on the East German side of the Berlin Wall with his very suspicious-acting parents. As Noah learns about the history of the German Democratic Republic, we learn along with him - through "secret files" at the end of each chapter. These are a great touch - th
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. The period of history surrounding East/West Berlin and the Berlin Wall is not one that I am particularly informed about so I was glad to get a better picture of the politics involved.

This book is told through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy with an Astonishing Stutter named Noah (with the help of some Secret Files). His parents, who have secrets of their own, tell him his name is Jonah now and move him to East Berlin where everyone is listening. His friendship with Claudia, th
Alexi W
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I got it for free from my school library because they were getting rid of advance reader's copies and I do not regret it. It shows how two different people bonded over the fact that they felt like outcasts in their communities. I also really liked the historical aspect of it and learning about what life was like in East Germany in the 1980's.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Starts a little slow, but picks up and is a wonderful story about children behind the Wall in East Berlin in 1989. Noah, an American 11 year old who becomes Jonah when living in East Berlin, tells a great story of living in the communist society, of his friendship with Cloud-Claudia, an East German girl, and of their desires to learn and find the truth. Neither knows the full truth about their parents, but importance of family and good parents comes through, even in an environment where parents ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to a book about the demolition of the Berlin Wall, but this book was largely disappointing. I didn't like any of the characters. There really was nothing to them. The plot was as murky as East Berlin must have been at the time. There were lots of mysterious "things" happening, but none of them were very developed and none of them really seemed to tie together or give any sort of a sense of what was really going on. The entire book was a waiting game for something to happen. ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Maine Student Book Award Winner for grades 4 and up. Great historical fiction bringing East Berlin in 1989 in full view. Very relevant read with lots to engage the reader and discuss. "Slip behind the Iron Curtain into a world of smoke, secrets, and lies in this stunning novel where someone is always listening and nothing is as it seems."
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Liked the plot line, but a little hard to follow at times.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated with Eastern Germany, particularly East Berlin - a fascination that grew when I spent a month living in Neukoln with friends in 2003. The bricks marking where the wall had been ran right across their street, only a couple of doors down from their building. I was amazed. But enough of my reminiscing... Cloud and Wallfish played on my fascination, with the atmosphere of the DDR beautifully evoked. It was great to see the historical happenings of the time through Jonah/N ...more
Luke Reynolds
Cloud and Wallfish is definitely a book that falls into the Books I Respect More than I Love pile. It's not a terrible book, though. I admire the heck out of Anne Nesbet's intricate writing and her attention to detail, and the snarky Secret File interludes alongside more history via exposition never felt out of place or unnecessary. In fact, it boosted the book's credibility.

I also really liked Noah. The poor boy was treated terribly by everyone outside his parents and Cloud-Claudia due to his s
- ̗̀  jess  ̖́-
So: I love European history. I love middle grade books. One of my aspirations in life is to make history fun for kids. And this book hit the mark on all of it, I think. Set immediately preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it follows Noah, an American in East Berlin.

The chapters are mixed between Noah's story and "Secret Files" at the end explaining history as it was, including primary sources translated by the author (who also lived in East Berlin in 1989). So while it's an entertainin
Agha Haider
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty good book overall. The end was very intense and strange. Some parts were hard to follow along, but overall it was a great book!
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is billed for children ages 10-14, but I believe that it might be a bit mature for those ages, having two grandchildren between 10-14. Nevertheless, the book is a great story of two kids, the title characters of which are Cloud [Claudia] and Wallfish [Noah / Jonah]. The year is 1989, and the main location is Berlin --- East/West. Having lived through the events that are related in the book made the story so much more interesting for me. The history behind the Berlin Wall and its eventua ...more
A perfectly fine historical fiction novel with a more-than-fine plot. I found it just okay, as some of the dialogue and writing left me wanting more; I found myself thinking, "Does a ten year old really talk/think/act like this?" Maybe in 1989 one would? I wish I'd learned more about the spies in the book and what their objectives were! Spies are cool and interesting! I also think a middle schooler would need a bit more context than what the book provides, so I would recommend it to those alread ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so when I read the synopsis for this I knew I'd enjoy it. It was my first experience reading about Germany/Europe post-WWII, and after reading this I'm interested in learning more about the period.

But the true reason this book has earned four stars from me is the portrayal of Noah ("Wallfish") and Claudia's ("Cloud") wonderful friendship. I also love its themes of inclusion - Noah has a stutter - and as it's aimed at children, this is SO important!
Becky B
Noah's parents show up one day in the middle of March after school in a rental. They speed him off to the airport, informing him that his mom has been granted permission to do her doctoral research comparing speech defects and education in the US with East Germany. (And fyi, readers, it's 1989.) So they are off to Berlin and Noah will finally get to use that German he's been learning. Then his parents start getting weird. They tell him they've lied about his name, it's not Noah Keller on his bir ...more
Kate Larkindale
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up from the YA shelves at the library, but it's really more a middle-grade book than YA. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy it because I did. It's the second book I've read recently set behind the Berlin Wall, yet was quite different to the last.

It's 1989 and Noah doesn't know what to think when his folks pick him up after school one day in a rental car and explain that they're leaving for Germany. What's more, he now has a new name, a new birthday and a whole past that has been in
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
One day, out of the blue, Noah's parents pick him up at school. They throw away his backpack and his math homework and anything else that identifies him as Noah Keller. They tell him that his name is Jonah Brown, that he's six months younger than he though he was, and then the family gets on a plane headed for East Germany. While they travel, Noah's parents give him a set of rules, things like Don't forget that they are always listening and Smile and be polite and Don't call attention to yoursel ...more
Mary Sanchez
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After school one day in the spring of 1989, sixth-grader Noah Keller, is whisked off by his parents to the airport. They thow away his backpack and their and his identities because he is now going to be known as Jonah Brown when they go to East Berlin to live because his mom is going to do research for her dissertation on stuttering, and his dad is going to write a novel about mink farmers.

There are so many secrets and rules to follow and the family never knows who might be listening to them in
Ethan j
There's not much to say except this book is hard to describe. I mean that I'm always on my toes. All I can say is this is a book that takes place in Virginia after World War 2. It can be like a history book and a novel on this boys life. First of all, the main character is a boy called Noah. Noah was your average kid in America. Had friends, went to birthdays, went to school, just your average kid. This life changed for Noah though. His parents moved to east Germany for 6 months for his mother. ...more
Kati Polodna
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1980s, middle-grade
Wow! I read this in a single day. I haven't come across a middle grade book about the fall of the Berlin Wall, so this was a fortuitous find.
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“It turns out that home is not mostly a place. Home is someone putting her arms around you and saying the words your heart longs to hear: always and everywhere.” 1 likes
“Cloud and Wallfish, Wallfish and Cloud.” 0 likes
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