Peter in Peril – at a glance
School reading lists’s five word review: Empathetic graphic novel for KS2.
Children’s book title: Peter in Peril – Courage and Hope in World War Two.
Children’s author: Helen Bate.
Illustrated by: Helen Bate.
Genre: Graphic novel, based on a true story.
Published by: Otter-Barry.
Recommended for children aged: 7-11.
First published: Hardback 2016, paperback January 2019.
This children’s book is ideal for: KS2 reluctant readers, WW2 topics, KS2 humanities, KS2 discussion in PSHE about freedom, equality and human rights. Good for historical empathy.
Set in Budapest in 1944, this graphic novel follows the life of Peter, a child, who goes into hiding with his family when the Nazis occupy Hungary during the second world war.
Told in the first person, the story develops through the eyes of a child and a sense of confusion and bewilderment resonates. Situations change rapidly, from almost normal family life to dark and tense forboding and sudden danger, as the comic book style frames follow events in easy to read chunks that will appeal to reluctant readers.
The abrupt and sudden changes to Peter’s life, due to the Nazi persecution of the Jews, are portrayed with innocence; both through the text and the style of the artwork. This naïve style of visual storytelling works well and will provoke questions from today’s junior reader. Instant comparisons can be drawn between Peter’s life and the reader’s, and the disparities and contradictions will help reveal all that is wrong with Peter’s situation and the desperation of his struggle – which makes this book an ideal topic book for class discussion.
Endorsed by Amnesty International, an epilogue gives a detailed factual background and follows up on what happened to Peter and his family after the war. There is good potential for internet research in history lessons and debate about equality, discrimination and human rights in PSHE. The simple, but powerful, narrative artwork and map denoting the locations of hiding places could serve as a useful impetus for display work in classrooms.
Peter in Peril is a worthwhile addition to KS2 school libraries and ideal for reluctant readers in years 5&6 learning about WW2 in primary school history lessons. Many thanks to Otter-Barry books for the review copy.
Why not have a look at our suggested reading lists for children aged 3-16?
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