by Sharon Dogar
What a book! This novel is the fictionalised story of Peter, the boy who hid in the attic or 'annex' with his family and Anne Frank and her family. Peter was a real person. Anne refers to him and his family throughout her diary of their 2 years in hiding. But here the author tells the story from Peter's point of view, drawing from Anne's references and imagining how a 16 year old boy, on the verge of manhood, would feel. Sharon Dogar gets right inside this boy's head. Anyone who's ever known or been a teenage boy can relate to him: his frustration, his anger, his boredom, his depair, his longings. The portrait of how the families manage to live in such close confinement, no privacy, no fresh air, no natural light, is finely and vividly drawn. His relationship with his parents - especially Mutti - is agonisingly poignant. His burgeoning relationship with Anne - how he starts off finding her irritating and intrusive and then grows to love her liveliness, her inquisitiveness and optimism - is exquisitively depicted. And even though the reader knows the inevitable outcome - betrayal and then the concentration camps - you keep hoping against hope, with every page turn, that somehow the course of history will be changed. The chapters are short, the text is a good size and the language is beautiful but accessible. However, the subject matter makes this a very challenging read. This is a book for upper Key Stage 3 and older. The descriptions of life in the concentration camps are harrowing - made all the more so because the reader knows this actually happened. A very important book which will make young people ask many questions for which, sadly, there are few answers. Alongside the book, there is an online resource with a timeline, biographies of Peter and Anne and their families, a film of the author talking about her book, authentic film footage from the time, and a set of really useful downloadable PDFs for teachers with ideas and suggestions of ways to use the book. Also available as eBook.

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