The sixth in Felix’s tales, Morris Gleitzman weaves a tale of hope, terror, war, and love in an intelligent and graceful manner. Published first in 2005, Gleitzman has been following Felix through the past, present, and future, and it’s absolutely addictive. Taught in schools and in every library, the Once series is an essential read for anyone in upper primary.
For those who have never read any of Gleitzman’s work, Felix begins his tale in Once as a ten year old Polish boy in the middle of World War II. He’s lived in an orphanage in Poland for many years, though he’s convinced his parents are still alive. So when the Nazi soldiers come to the orphanage and burn the nun’s books, he’s fearful for his Jewish parents’ lives, and sets out on a lonely and dangerous mission to save them. It brings him face to face with terror and destruction of unimaginable magnitudes, but most of all, it brings him in touch with friendship.
The Once series have been taught around the world for children studying World War II and the Holocaust. Often mentioned in the same breath as The Diary of Anne Frank, there is no question there is an incredible amount of intelligence and empathy in Gleitzman’s work. The amount of research Gleitzman has put into these books – including a personal pilgrimage to Poland – will show you just how seriously Gleitzman took his duty to tell this story honestly and authentically.
There have been five books in the series – Once, Then, Now, After, and Soon – and now, Maybe marks the sixth in the series. They’ve been written in a way that you do not have to read them in order. They’re snippets across time of Felix’s life, and examine the long-reaching impact World War II had on an individual and societal level. Maybe follows quickly on after Soon.
In Now, the books jump ahead to Felix’s 80th birthday, where he is living in Australia. Maybe is the story of how he came here. The book begins in 1946. The war is officially over, but Poland is struggling. It’s wartorn and destitute. At first, Felix and his friend Anya return to their friend Gabriek’s farm, intent on living in Poland, but an opportunity comes up for them all to move to Australia. Taking this is a chance of a new life. But when there’s an old enemy out for revenge, willing to follow you across the world, who knows what will happen? Maybe it’ll all be fine. Maybe it’ll be a fight to the death. Or maybe this is the beginning of something new. Maybe… maybe… maybe…
Perfect for ages eight and up, Maybe and the others in the Once series are an essential read for upper primary children. They are intelligent, clever, and action-packed. While they deal with dark themes, Gleitzman has used grace and humour to create a balanced book that, above all, is pervaded with an overwhelming feeling of hope and friendship. Maybe is an essential part of anyone’s bookshelf.
Morris Gleitzman grew up in England and came to Australia when he was sixteen. After university he worked for ten years as a screenwriter. Then he had a wonderful experience. He wrote a novel for young people. Now, after 39 books, he’s one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors.
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