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A Faraway Island [Kindle Edition]

Annika Thor , Linda Schenck
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $5.98
You Save: $1.01 (14%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Two Jewish sisters 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 8-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 intensifies, the girls remain, each with her own host family, on a rugged island off the western coast of Sweden.

Nellie quickly settles in to her new surroundings. She’s happy with her foster family and soon favors the Swedish language over her native German. Not so for Stephie, who finds it hard to adapt; she feels stranded at the end of the world, with a foster mother who’s as cold and unforgiving as the island itself. Her main worry, though, is her parents—and whether she will ever see them again.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—In this gripping story, Stephie and Nellie, two Austrian Jewish sisters, are evacuated in 1938 from Vienna to a Swedish island and placed in separate foster homes. Twelve-year-old Stephie has promised her parents that she will try to ease her younger sister's way, a burdensome promise to keep. Auntie Alma, Nellie's Swedish mother, is warmer and more welcoming than Auntie Märta, Stephie's more austere foster parent. At first it seems that Nellie will have a more difficult time adjusting, but the opposite happens. Loneliness and a sense of isolation engulf Stephie. The shunning and taunting of cliquish, bigoted girls intensify her longing for home and the familiar, but Stephie bravely perseveres, bolstered by the hope that she will only be separated from her parents for a short time. Unfortunately this does not happen, and the girls must remain on this faraway island. Children will readily empathize with Stephie's courage. Both sisters are well-drawn, likable characters. This is the first of four books Thor has written about the two girls. It is an excellent companion to Lois Lowry's Number the Stars (Houghton, 1989), Kit Pearson's The Sky Is Falling (Viking, 1990; o.p.), and Olga Levy Drucker's Kindertransport (Holt, 1995).—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

ANNIKA THOR's bestselling quartet featuring the Steiner sisters has been translated into numerous languages and was adapted into a hugely popular television series in Sweden.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1806 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (November 10, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002UM5BFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,718 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers - 2010 January 17, 2010
Based on interviews with real Jewish refugees in wartime Sweden, A Faraway Island offers a new angle on Holocaust stories. Apparently there was a Swedish version of the Kindertransport. 500 Jewish children were sent to safety in Sweden in 1939 and had varying types of experiences living with Swedish families. In this novel, Stephie Steiner (age 12) and her sister Nellie (age 8) leave their parents in Vienna for an island off the coast of Sweden. Placed in two different homes, with two related families, they are safe but encouraged to accept Jesus and eventually baptized, with no understanding or regard for their Jewish heritage. Stephie is bullied and teased while Nellie manages to fit in, even as she risks losing her Jewishness. As the war comes closer, to Denmark and Norway, and the chances of reuniting with their parents diminishes, details of the sisters' mostly secular former life in Vienna are gradually recalled and revealed: Nazis humiliating a shopkeeper and his wife, isolation of the Jewish students in separate schools, their father's experience in a labor camp, fancy shops, the loss of their luxuries, the burning of their synagogue. The author, described as having been "born and raised in a Jewish family in Goteborg, Sweden," has written four novels about Stephie and Nellie. In this one, the girls do not protest the loss of their religion; perhaps this occurs later in the series. In an author's note, Thor explains that she wrote the book in the present tense to contribute to "a better understanding of the vulnerable situation in which refugee children continue to live." - SUSAN BERSON - DENVER, CO
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Faraway Island December 28, 2009
In the summer of 1939, Stephie and Ellie Steiner are sent from Vienna to Sweden to escape the Nazi threat. They live on a small island off the mainland. Eight-year -old Nellie adjusts quickly, picking up the language, making friends easily, and enjoying the company of her foster mother, Auntie Alma and her two children. Twelve-year-old Stephie has a harder time. Her foster mother, Auntie Marta, is a strict and thrifty woman. Stephie misses her parents very much, and she worries about them and how they will fulfill their plans to emigrate to the United States. Stephie does well in school, but there is a group of girls who taunt Stephie and exclude her. Through an incident with teasing, Stephie sees that her foster mother cares and that she has a friend. She is much happier.
Although this is a story about Jewish girls, the Jewish content is limited to anti-Semitism and when the foster mothers take the girls to church with them. When the singing and warmth makes Stephie cry because it reminds her of synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, Auntie Marta is thrilled that she has "embraced Jesus so quickly." The pace is rather slow, setting the tone of how miserable Stephie feels. The story ends abruptly, with Stephie no longer feeling at the end of the world. An author's note describes the history of sending children to Sweden during World War II. The book is the first of a four-part series about the Steiner sisters. For ages 10 - 14. Kathe Pinchuck
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good historical novel for preteens. November 13, 2009
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 on a small island in Sweden, and have very different experiences. Nellie loves her foster parents, who have young children of their own. Stephie however is placed with a seemingly cold and unloving childless couple. While the younger Nellie quickly adapts to life in a strange new country, Stephie struggles to learn the new language, and feels like an outcast in school. Will she ever adjust to her new country and new life? And what will become of the parents she left behind?

Before reading A Faraway Island, I had never even heard of the story of the 500 Jewish refugee children Sweden accepted just before the start of World War II. The author, Annika Thor, grew up in a Jewish family in Sweden and had young refugee cousins who had fled the Nazis in Europe. She has published three other books about Stephie and Nellie in Sweden, that tell the rest of their story during and shortly after World War II, and I hope to see them published in English so I can find out the rest of of the story. This book would make a good choice for preteens looking to supplement their learning about World War II with historical fiction, as well as for any reader looking for a unique story set in this time period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Faraway Island December 1, 2010
Two sisters are sent from their home during the war to Sweden for their own safety. Nellie, the youngest, seems to adjust fairly well. Stephie, the eldest, has more issues adjusting and finding her way in her new home. This is a good, quick read. Stephie and Nellie show how the war tore children from their parents and their homes. This was a book originally written in Swedish but the translation is done extremely well. I think girls especially would enjoy this book. I borrowed this book from the library; it was on the book list for a YA class that I am taking.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Far Away Island
I loved this book the only problem is that it has a lot of German words that take me a while to sound the out
Published 21 days ago by Elaine Patten
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!
This series, transelated from Swedish, is excellent and highly recommended for children, probably from age 10-12 up to adult, depending on reading skills. Read more
Published 2 months ago by 10Bethj
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Lovely and educational book for my granddaughter!
Published 3 months ago by Barbara Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars good summer read.
It was an easy read, so it's great for summertime camping. I found this book accidentally when I was looking for a book my daughter has to read for summer reading. Read more
Published 3 months ago by kb845
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I really like the time period it was set in.Also I like reading about different Scandinavian countries and cultures.I would recommend this to young pre-teens.
Published 4 months ago by Patricia Briggs
4.0 out of 5 stars A different approach to saving Jewish children during the years...
A well written book from a child's point of view when sent to a foreign country to protect them during the war. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sandy
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written Tale
During the early years of World War II, 500 Jewish children were allowed entry into Sweden, expecting it to be a temporary stop while awaiting their parents on the way to America. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tamela Mccann
5.0 out of 5 stars A Faraway Island
Excellent for young readers. It's first in a series. The second book is out....translated. I hope
all the books will be translated soon!
Published 10 months ago by Margan
5.0 out of 5 stars Faraway Island
Loved the
Book, couldn't wait to finish it. Good picture of how innocent people suffer ed during the second world war.
Published 14 months ago by retired
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Story spoke to the heart! I could not put it down, our read it straight through. Looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Published 20 months ago by Ruth E. Smith
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