4.19 (11,942 ratings by Goodreads)
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Felix, a Jewish boy in Poland in 1942, is hiding from the Nazis in a Catholic orphanage. The only problem is that he doesn't know anything about the war, and thinks he's only in the orphanage while his parents travel and try to salvage their bookselling business. And when he thinks his parents are in danger, Felix sets off to warn them--straight into the heart of Nazi-occupied Poland. To Felix, everything is a story: Why did he get a whole carrot in his soup? It must be sign that his parents are coming to get him. Why are the Nazis burning books? They must be foreign librarians sent to clean out the orphanage's outdated library. But as Felix's journey gets increasingly dangerous, he begins to see horrors that not even stories can explain. Despite his grim suroundings, Felix never loses hope. Morris Gleitzman takes a painful subject and expertly turns it into a story filled with love, friendship, and even humor.show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 163 pages
  • 137.16 x 208.28 x 17.78mm | 181.44g
  • Square Fish
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0312653042
  • 9780312653040
  • 4,452

Review quote

Like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (rev. 9/06), this Holocaust parable plays its main character's naivete against readers' likely knowledge of the historical realities, but here the juxtaposition is believable and not at all precious; like The Book Thief (rev. 3/06), the novel extols the power of storytelling in the face of tragedy, but Once pits Felix's stories against even deeper ugliness. ... Gleitzman manages to find a grain of hope in the unresolved (and likely dire) conclusion, but this is the rare Holocaust book for young readers that doesn't alleviate its dark themes with a comforting ending. The Horn Book, Starred Review This gripping novel will make readers want to find out more Booklist "show more

About Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman has been a fashion-industry trainee, frozen-chicken defroster, department-store Santa, sugar-mill employee, and screenwriter, among other things. Now he's one of Australia's best-loved children's book authors. His books have been published all over the world.show more

Rating details

11,942 ratings
4.19 out of 5 stars
5 43% (5,107)
4 39% (4,603)
3 15% (1,767)
2 3% (334)
1 1% (131)

Our customer reviews

Barney and I were on a train to get to the camp, our group jumped off the train leaving Barney and others alone. Unfortunately Zelda and I were the only ones to survive the jump. We are traveling to a small town. Hopefully there aren't any of those dangerous people. I am carrying Zelda. Her poor feet is hurt from walking just on slippers. We arrived at the town, there were only 4 houses that were in dark. It seems very lonely without people. We walk into one of the houses with four plates on the kitchen table still warm. Our stomachs start grumbling in hunger. "Felix. I'm hungry" She tugs on my shirt. "We'll just eat a plate." I feel guilty eating someone's food without permission. I take out my book and tore out a page. I start writing an apology note. Soon after we left the house seeing 3 people talking to German. We rushed to the side of the house so we don't get caught. One of those nazis heard a sound and is coming our way. Zelda starts grabbing my the wrist real hard. "Walk back quietly. Be careful" I whisper to her. Zelda steps on a stick make a large cracking noise. The nazi hears taking out his gun pointing it to my head. The nazi starts yelling in German. The other two approach us with loaded guns. I look down on my knees and hands. I try to yell but nothing comes out. The nazi starts pulling the trigger slowly. Zelda jumps onto the nazi and slaps him across the face. "Stop!" She yells. The nazi pushes my head against the house wall, pulls her by her hair and throws her onto the ground pointing the gun at her forehead. I try to stop them but I don't have the voice to. I feel very hopeless. I wish this could all end right now. Please help me. I fall to ground as the nazi strangles her. A gunshot fires. I get scared. I was too scared to look at Zelda. Hearing a body fall down I start crying. Another gun sort gets fired. A nazi starts yelling. A gun shot gets fired again with a body falling to the ground. I look up at the sound seeing a nazi crawl away crying out loud. The nazi was shot. I look at the other two nazis. They are dead on the ground shot. Zelda is struggling to get the nazi body away from her. I run to her helping her out "You're safe!" I say in joyfulness. "Of course I am. Don't you know a-" Before she finishes her sentence another gun shot fires at us hitting the house. I take Zelda and ran away. We run into the forest hiding. I search for the man who was shooting. He was not in sight, I thought it was safe to walk normally again. I was wrong. I soon as I stood up, I was shot in the leg. I scream in pain. The pain was unbearable. "Felix!" Behind us was another man with a gun. I thought Zelda and I were done. But I was wrong. The other man starts shooting at the person who was shooting as us. He saved us. He brought us to his house. He puts me onto his couch with my leg on the rest. He takes out his medical box and starts helping me. Zelda rests my head onto her lap telling me a story I told her before.show more
by Toby
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