Last Sunday, we launched our new theme entitled, “Nomads, Homes, and Habitats: Restlessness and Refuge in Literature.” I’m sharing a juvenile historical fiction that I’ve read a few weeks ago. From its cover to the Author’s Note in the back of the book, I fell in love with Jennifer Elvgren’s The Whispering Town. If you ever find a copy, be sure to grab it!
Words by: Jennifer Elvgren
Pictures by: Fabio Santomauro
Published by: Kar-Ben Publishing (2014)
In his book, The Art of Happiness, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama wrote, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Love and compassion are what readers would find in The Whispering Town. With short narrative and bold illustrations, this historical fiction by Jennifer Elvgren and Fabio Santomauro depicts Jewish life in Nazi-occupied Denmark.
The story focuses on a Danish couple and their daughter named Anett. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son in their cellar. “They are new friends,” said Anett’s mother. Because their new friends would be staying with them for a couple of nights, Anett’s mother made sure they had enough food.
“You have not lived today until you have done something
for someone who can never repay you.” — John Bunyan
With the help of their neighbors, Anett’s family was able to provide for their new friends. The Whispering Town clearly shows a community effort to help those who are most in need. Providing food and shelter were not enough, however. Their Jewish friends needed to leave Denmark and set sail for Sweden.
Anett’s unusual plan to get their Jewish friends safely to the harbor was quite remarkable. I would leave that for you to find out. The Whispering Town portrays how an entire village stood up to oppression and discrimination. It’s a great reminder that the little things we do for others could mean something big for them.
The story of The Whispering Town is loosely based on the events that happened in a small fishing village of Gilleleje. According to the Author’s Note, about 1,700 Jews escaped from the Nazis through the help of the people of Gilleleje.