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The Day My Father Became a Bush Hardcover – March 1, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Gecko Press (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1877579483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877579486
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,851,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Toda lives with her father above the bakery where he makes 20 different scrumptious pastries every morning. Her mother left a long time ago; she couldn’t cope. Toda’s father enlists to fight in the war in “the south” and leaves Toda with her Gran. When the bombing gets too close, her Gran sends her across the border to live with her mother. And so begins a strange, harrowing journey on buses through forests to welfare homes and agencies, attached to bitter strangers, themselves put upon by the strains of wartime, all in search of a mother she doesn’t know. Toda experiences her exodus with the struggles, hopes, and misunderstandings of a child, and van Leeuwen compounds this sense of confusion by omitting details about the setting. Warm, odd pen-and-ink sketches dot the narrative, adding to the childlike sensibility. By turns charming and disquieting, this challenging slip of a novel offers deep and genuine thoughts about the intersections of war and family. Grades 5-8. --Thom Barthelmess

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
One of the most powerful, disturbing and memorable books to reflect the horror of wartime displacement was Jerzy Kosinski's "Painted Bird". It was published in 1965 and traced the story of a young boy who had been abandoned by his parents during World War II, and ended up wandering from village to village in Eastern Europe in search of safety and shelter. It describes a brutal, harrowing, senseless and merciless world. The language of the book was direct, sparse, bleak and unflinching. We follow our innocent protagonist from age 6 to age 12 as he slowly comes to grips with the brutality surrounding him. "Painted Bird" is a difficult and demanding read.

I thought of "Painted Bird" frequently as I read "The Day My Father Became a Bush". Given its target audience this is obviously a kinder and gentler, or certainly at least a less explicit and brutal, book, but it still hints at and touches upon the evils of displacement, loss, fear and war. Our protagonist, an innocent young girl from an unnamed country is sent "across the border" to find her mother and relative safety. She too must negotiate the unknown and the unsettling as she makes her way from village to village and, ultimately, to the border.

The writer's style is direct and clear. The voice is that of the heroine, and her observations and her understanding of her circumstances is often childish. The contrast between what she comprehends and what we know and suspect is what gives the book its power. The book has almost a dreamy, unconnected quality, and again this conflicts with our fear for her safety, because we know more than she does what her peril is.

The upshot is that for an adult this is a nerve wracking read.
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Format: Hardcover
The funny thing is, I read almost the whole way through this before I realized it was contemporary. I had thought it was WW2. Then someone in the story started typing on a computer and there were plastic baggies and her parents are separated but not by war and I was like whaaaat?

Anyway! The story is well written and has the true voice of a child. The illustrations are good too. Its about a girl who has to flee over the border during wartime to the safety of her mother's house (which she's never seen). Her father is a soldier but all she really knows is that he was a fine pastry chef and now he spends his time disguised as a bush.

It is a chapter book so probably recommended for ages 8-12
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Format: Hardcover
Toda’s father makes 20 types of pastries and three types of cake every day for his bakery. Then he goes off to war (at an undisclosed location) and Toda has to secretly travel across the border to find her absent mother. While the author keeps details such as setting and language unclear, Toda’s courage and intelligence during wartime will appeal to readers from the beginning. Her story of resilience in a changing and challenging landscape is echoed by humorous and enigmatic drawings from the talented author.

After Toda’s father goes to war, she reads a manual on disguises that he left her and envisions her father hiding himself as a bush. She hopes that keeps him safe. Her grandmother comes to live in the apartment over the bakery, but the building is bombed and in an active warzone. Her grandmother tells her that she will have to travel over the border to her long absent mother and live with her during the rest of the war. The trip will be with strangers. She and her grandmother make a list of things she shouldn’t forget, including her father’s pastries, cuddles and “Gran’s wobbly way of singing.”

At the group’s first stop in a small village, some children give them broken, ugly, toys, and the parents become angry when Toda’s group is not more grateful. In another scene when Toda goes to use the bathroom in a shelter, she encounters a group of elderly women who all fight for Toda to adopt one of them as a stand-in grandmother. Toda is homesick and wants only her real grandmother.

She explores one night as her group prepares for the last leg of the journey and ends up at a mansion with a lonely eccentric couple that doesn’t want her to leave. They try to hold her prisoner, but she still feels sorry for them, and leaves them a thank you note for her dinner.
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Format: Hardcover
Say you’re a young girl living with your dad – your mom lives
in another country and you haven’t seen her in ages – and a
war breaks out. Your pastry chef dad thinks he should go fight,
and looking in a book he gives you, you see a picture of a soldier
camouflaged as a bush.

He tells you your grandmother’s coming to live with you while he’s away, and she does, but then fighting breaks out in your village;
she feels it’s no longer safe for you there, and sends you away to
be with your mom.

Then starts a harrowing journey of questions, discovery, and a kind of understanding all of us go through.
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