Amanda Wragg, a reviewer for Net Galley, gave The Children’s Train a 5 out of 5 star rating.
“Before starting this review I would like to make mention of the author Jana Zinser's dedication. In part it says ...
The Nazis killed six million Jews. One-and-a-half million of those Jews were children. Peter and Becca represent two of the more than ten thousand children who safely escaped to England on the Kindertransport. Most of the Kindertransport children never saw their parents again.
I personally want to say. I believe we must never forget these atrocities, these were mothers, father, brothers, sisters, children, and babies! What was done was to them was pure EVIL! We need to continue to educate generation to generation.
The majority of the novel is based around Peter the 11 yr old protagonist and his 6 yr old sister Becca.
Peter's father had fought in "The Great War" who had come back a hero and was left with the scars to prove it, shrapnel in his leg. Very early on we are shown the character of this man for example he owns the local butcher and in 1933 he is no longer supposed to slaughter the animals the Jewish way...he shows the strength of his convictions by still doing so. When Peter mentions that Hitler will be angry with him, his father replies that he would rather have Hitler mad with him than God.
Peter's mother is also a strong and loving woman who was obviously put Earth to be a mother. To round of this beautiful family there is one year old rosy cheeked Lily.
Jana Zinser brilliantly expresses the horror, confusion and fear that not only Peter but the other children in the novel are feeling and thinking when witnessing the atrocities by the Nazis.
Peter is trying to comprehend why he is considered less than human and hated, he has never hated anything nor does he really understand the concept of hatred especially the hatred by the Nazis for him being Jewish. He especially finds it difficult since he has been brought up to be proud of his heritage.
Peter's confusion continues such as why would Germany no longer want him and his family when his Dad was a war hero who had fought for Germany during the "The Great War", even Hitler fought on the same side as his father. Some of the local Nazi's had fought side by side with his father, once his friends now his enemies.
This book is not just about Peter's family, but also Peter and his friends families. They all have the same things in common, they are Jewish, and all go to the same school in Berlin. Zinser's description is heartbreaking when she describes little children as young as 4 being marched out of the school and told they will never return because they are "rats".
As the situation becomes even more dire for the Jewish families losing their homes and businesses. The freezing winter begins to close in. The parents are given only one solution that could possibly save their children and that is The Children's Train called Kindertransport. Peter and Becca and some of their schoolfriend's were on one of those trains.
The Kindertransport was organised and fully funded by a group of wonderful volunteers and generous financial donators from England who transported as many Jewish children out of Germany as they possibly could before all of the German Borders were closed.
As the book continues we learn what happens to Peter's family left behind. We also learn the fate of other families and of some of the children whose parents made the decision not to send their children. This is spread out over a number of years as we watch Peter grow into a young man.
When I began this book I thought that I had quite a lot of knowledge about the Holocaust but I was surprised to learn about the Kindertransport children. Although this novel is fiction, the Kindertransport was not and I will never forget about the ones that made it on those trains and also the ones who did not."