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Anna and the Swallow Man

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  6,972 ratings  ·  1,540 reviews
Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Kaeley Scruggs I think the ending was left open because the reader knows about as much information as Anna does. I think we were left in the dark so we could better …moreI think the ending was left open because the reader knows about as much information as Anna does. I think we were left in the dark so we could better identify what she was feeling and left that way so we could be in the same situation as her.(less)
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Bambi Wood When this incident happens, a number of years have gone by and there has evidence of Ann's maturing into young womanhood. Also, she does not have sex …moreWhen this incident happens, a number of years have gone by and there has evidence of Ann's maturing into young womanhood. Also, she does not have sex with the pharmacist, he violated her by looking at her naked in exchange for the medicine. (less)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  6,972 ratings  ·  1,540 reviews

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Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

Gavriel Savit’s literary debut is one of those rare, gorgeous little gems that leave you completely in awe of the author’s talent. Savit is incredibly skillful with words, a true artist fully aware of the importance of every single sentence. Each one is a small work of art, poetic and beautiful in its simplicity.

The best thing about Anna and the Swallow Man is that it’s told entirely from a child’s perspective, a world seen through a seven-year-old’s eyes. It is a bleak, desperate world; th
Stacey (prettybooks)
Anna and the Swallow Man is stunning. It's the first thing you'll notice about the book – the captivating cover accompanied by instantly beautiful writing. It is among the few literary young adult novels I've read and it won't be the last.

Anna and the Swallow Man retells a story we've heard a million times; one that needs to continue to be told, and it makes you feel like you're hearing it for the first time. You feel the sadness and anger and confusion that our young protagonist feels, seeing t
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book took me by surprise and impressed me consistently. Weaving elements of fairytale, folktale, historical fiction, magical realism, and the precarious balance between the adulthood and childhood world, Anna and the Swallow Man is a book of many facets that is nevertheless cohesive. The Swallow Man is one of the most intriguing characters I have read about, and the mix of admiration and fear that I feel towards him is quite unique. Anna's understanding of the Swallow Man and his world was ...more
Claire Talbot
Feb 02, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

I'm not sure what to make of this thing. I'm mostly pretty impressed, but my emotions run the gamut from WOW! to WHAT THE?!? Ultimately it left me bewildered, but it's the kind of bafflement that keeps replaying in my head, begging me to figure out what I just read. I guess I need to ask a kid. After all, the first Library of Congress categorization for Anna and the Swallow Man reads: 1. Poland---History---Occupation, 1939-1945---Juvenile Fiction

Okay, yeah, sure,. It's just a Poland-ce
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
Actual Rating: 2.5

I'm still SO confused about this novel. But I don't really care enough about it to go sleuthing around on the interwebs.

I would say don't waste your money on this perplexing piece of literature, but there is a small chance that Gavriel Savit is a mastermind and I'm just too much of a dumbass to understand what was going on.


Do with that what you will.
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a slim, beautifully written little book. The first half is wonderful, and really gives you a sense for how confusing the beginning of the war would have been for a child. It's almost fairy tale like. But as the book, and the war, go on the ethereal writing stopped working for me. I needed to know some concrete things, none of which were answered, leaving me ultimately very frustrated. ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it
‘There is no labyrinth as treacherous as that with neither paths nor walls.’

When seven-year-old Anna is placed in the company of a neighbor while her father attends to some business, she never thought that would be the last she would see of him. The year is 1939 during the very beginning of World War II and the Germans are beginning their round up of scholars and Anna’s father is a professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Unsure what to do, Anna turns to a mysterious stranger
Rashika (is tired)
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I absolutely adore middle grade novels so when I heard about Anna and the Swallow Man, I knew I was going to have a lot of feels and would probably need a lot of tissues. The book; however, turned out to be not exactly what I expected. When I read the blurb, I thought that Anna and the Swallow Man would be right in the middle of the war instead of spending their time skirting its edges. Don’t
Diane S ☔
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anna's father is a professor in Krakow, he sometimes leaves Anna with a friend and returns formatter later. But this time he doesn't return, he is taken in the intellectual purge of the Nazis. So Anna waits, but then knowing something is wrong, but not what, she meets the Swallow Man. A very tall, thin man who can speak all the languages she and her father can, but he can also speak bird. So she follows him and he will teach her how to survive in this strange new landscape.

Not very good at ratin
Sarah Churchill
Lyrical writing based on a fairy tale and set during WWII... this book should have made my head and heart implode with happiness. Unfortunately I struggled to get as immersed in this as I would have liked. The journey of Anna and her Swallow Man was a gruelling one, walking across countries over the span of years (no idea how long, there's a lack of any kind of time reference) through all seasons. I should have felt the exhaustion, the cold and the hunger. But I really didn't.

I think that the wr
♛ may
this book is unexpectedly brilliant. i went in with a mindset that it would be a historic book taking place in WWII but its so much more complex than that

after anna's father doesn't return to her, the seven year old girl meets a strange man who can speak in every language that she knows (with the addition of one), knows pretty much everything about everything, and doesn't have much of an identity but goes by the "Swallow Man"

it follows them as the Swallow Man takes it upon himself to protect ann
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To my thinking, this book exemplifies astonishing achievement in writing, both on the literal and symbolic levels.

There are only three characters for most of the book; who they are and my best guess at who they are on a “meta” level is as follows: Anna, a seven-year-old girl when we first meet her, personifies both innocence and later innocence destroyed; The Swallow Man, a Werner Heisenberg-like character who, I think, represents the uneasy balance between knowledge (especially, technological a
Later rerated to*: 4 Stars

*I'm rerating a lot of the books I read in the past to fit my current taste. Most of the time it's downrating books that I thought I really liked at the time but there are a few exceptions. :) And it'd be too much to try to reflect these changes on my blog, so the ratings will remain as the original ones on Xingsings.

4.5 Stars, Completed December 31, 2015

“I need a SparkNotes interpretation of this” was the first thought that popped into my head when I finished page 232.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Men who try to understand the world without the help of children are like men who try to bake bread without the help of yeast.

That quote.

This is definitely an important book, worth a read, whether you like it or not.

After finishing this book, I really couldn't quite describe my thoughts on it, hence the three stars.

It was a mixture of confusion and sadness.

But, looking back upon it now, I think it's safe to say that my feelings towards it have stabilized enough to write an adequate review.
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I enjoyed the story of little Anna and her formidable swallow man a lot. It's one of those rare gems that you feel very lucky to come across. And it's definitely a gorgeous addition to the WW2 stories too. The beautiful cover comes off befitting to that of a children's book, and it's probably marketed at middle graders/YA. Yet, IMO it's one of those stories that will very likely appeal to readers of all ages; though maybe adults and more mature teens especially.

Did I expect this to b
reading is my hustle
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to reading is my hustle by: Linda Minor
Shelves: ya, fiction-ww-ii
This is good. Very good. The story is set during WWII and told through the perspective of a seven year old girl. It is many things but I think it works best as an allegorical tale. There are bits of magical realism spread throughout the story and the third person narrative gives the story a folk tale feeling. It pulls you in and wants you to listen.

This is an exemplary story about the horrors of war.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What the eff did I just read?
I really liked this book, but I just think that it was missing something.
May 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Very, very thoughtful people who don't really care about plot
I Dont Understand What Just Happened Here GIFs - Get the best GIF ...

That was weird and confusing and probably some complex allegory I'm not deep enough to understand, but I didn't like it.

Anna is an orphan during WWII. She runs loose on the streets because she doesn't know what else to do, but then she sees a man. She doesn't even know his real name, but she follows him anyway. And so they march across Poland, surprisingly without a whole lot of trouble, and that's not even half of it. It gets disturbing. Very disturbing. This 'Swallow Man' character is seen re
RoseMary Achey
I would give this short novel three stars for the beautiful writing, but only two for the disjointed plot. Anna and the Swallow Man has been compared to The Book Thief however the only similarity I see is the time frame-WWII. Many reviewers have used the terms magical realism and a bit of a fairy tale, but I felt this author failed to provide a sufficient foundation to support these elements.
Lucija The Reader
Well... I didn't really like this one and I was really excited because it sounded great. I loved the writing, it was beautiful, I liked Anna and The Swallow man as characters, but the story to me was boring and slow. I feel very bad because I am seeing such positive reviews saying how great this book is, but it wasn't really that good for me. I will maybe try to read it again in the future. But for now, this is a 2 star book. ...more
Richie Partington
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN by Gavriel Savit, Knopf, January 2016, 240p., ISBN: 978-0-553-51334-9

“I see my life come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released”
--Bob Dylan (1967)

“Anna and the Swallow Man moved through the trees, silent, side by side, away from the place where they had met Reb Hirschl the Jew, walking just as they always had. Only for Anna it was nothing like it had been before.
There were many things Anna was unsure of. She didn’t
Joie de Livre
Even though at parts it was a beautiful book it was hard for me to understand some of the political occasions because Savit did not explain them.He was generally pretty vague and the book was quite metaphorical,lyrical and poetic it sometimes was too much because I couldn't understand what he actually meant.I liked the innocence of the girl though she grew up too quickly and was surprisingly not too scared of the dead bodies in front of her all the time.

I still have a lot of questions after read
Melissa I
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Young and young at heart. Beautiful story have tissues
Recommended to Melissa by: Shelf Awareness contest TYVM
I fell in LOVE with this book.....I highly recommend. A book I hope my daughter will pick up and read.

More to come, for now....

Purchase links: Set to release January 26, 2016 Grab a copy!! <3

Amazon Hardcover (pre-order link):

Hardcover Product info from Amazon:
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Lexile Measure: 1160 (What's this?)
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (January 26, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553513346
Heartbreaking and captivating. I'll certainly read whatever this talented author delivers next. ...more
Sara Grochowski
This novel begins in Poland, the year is 1939, and 7-year old Anna’s father has just been taken by the Germans. She’s alone until taken in by a wanderer she knows only as the Swallow Man. Like her father, the Swallow Man has a gift for languages – a familiar haven in a confusing and increasingly dangerous world. Together they traverse the war-torn landscape, changing their identities as needed, shifting from one language to another, and adapting to each new and uncertain day.

Like the characters
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a well-worded and tactful book. Though I rarely seem to be able to get into this portion of history, the author focused more on the journey than the time, which pulled me in further.
Dov Zeller
Mar 03, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Warning: Plot elements revealed in this review. Also known as Spoiler Alert!

It's time to write a review of Anna and the Swallow Man (swallow as in the kind of bird) and this isn't going to be easy. For one thing, I didn't like the book and it makes me a little nervous to say so publicly, especially when there are many things the writer does very well. And also because I don't fully grasp all the reasons I found the book to be troubling and dissatisfying. Hopefully as I write this, these things w
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on Three Little Birds Book Blog

I don't know how to review this book. I still don't know if any of it is real. Anna and the Swallow Man is a magical, striking tale about a man and a girl who live on the outskirts of war. Their pilgrimage takes them across thousands of miles, as they meet interesting characters and dodge dangerous ones. The writing is superb; it’s lyrical, enchanting, and oftentimes mesmerizing. This story is a spell of magic, every page filled with great meaning
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Gavriel Savit is a New York Times Bestselling author. His award-winning writing has been shortlisted for the National Book Award, and has been translated into nineteen languages. As a performer, he has appeared on and off-Broadway, and on stages around the world.

News & Interviews

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
188 likes · 67 comments
“I know it's not good for a girl to be without a father these days. But is it any better for a father to be without a daughter?” 12 likes
“Because," said the swallow man. "A friend is not someone to whom you give the things you need when the world is at war. A friend is someone to whom you give the things that you need when the world is at peace.” 7 likes
More quotes…