Finding Sophie by Irene N. Watts;
Tundra Books: New York, 2002; $6.95
Before I read Finding Sophie I had read several books about Jewish children who went into hiding during World War II, or who were in concentration camps. I was very excited to read this book because it was about something new to me: children who were on the Kindertransport and what happened to them. I learned that the Kindertransport was a special train. It brought children, who were Jewish and living in Germany, to England. England was a much safer country during the war.
I liked the main character instantly! Her name is Sophie Mandel. She is 14 years old for most of the story—the same age as my sister. Sophie is brave and full of spirit. She is an amazing artist, also. Her life was so different from the way my life has been. Can you imagine being separated from your parents when you are only seven years old, and not knowing if you’ll ever see them again? This is what happened to Sophie after she left her parents in Germany. She was sent on the Kindertransport to England to live with her mother’s friend, Aunt Em. Sophie was lucky because Aunt Em loved her so much and she loved her back. She had a good life with Aunt Em, even though life wasn’t easy during that time.
You have to concentrate when you are reading Finding Sophie because the story moves back and forth in time. Sometimes Sophie would think back to special times she had had with her mother and father. They called her Zoffie in German. The saddest part in the story for me was, as Sophie got older some of the memories of her parents began to fade. Sophie has guilty feelings because she wants to stay in England forever with her Aunt Em and her new friends, Mandy and Nigel.
One of my favorite parts of the book was when Sophie had a reunion with a girl named Marianne, who had looked after her on the Kindertransport like a mother. They had to deal with being far away from their families, and with losing a close family member. This gave them a special bond.
I won’t spoil the ending for you and tell you what happens, but I was happy for Sophie the way things turned out. Part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much is because the author, Irene Watts, told the story in such a real way. I thought it was fascinating that she was a passenger on the Kindertransport when she was a child, just like Sophie. If you are interested in learning about children’s experiences during the Holocaust, you will enjoy reading this book.