Review – Now by Morris Gleitzman

ONCE upon a time there was a 10 year old Jewish boy called Felix whose parents were taken away by the Nazis.  THEN, his close friend and ally, Zelda, was taken away from him also.  NOW, Felix is 80, living in Australia, and trying to protect another Zelda, his grandaughter who is also our narrator.  

NOW is the conclusion to Morris Gleitzman’s wonderful trilogy for children which brings us from 1940s Poland to present day Australia.  The author insists that all three books can be read as stand-alones and I suppose that, technically, that is true but if you want to reap the full benefit of these short but powerful novels, you need to read them in the right order, Once, Then and Now.

Even though NOW is firmly set in the present, there are constant reminders of Felix’s past experiences.  Zelda has some idea of his past but has been sheltered from the more brutal episodes.  She loves her Grandfather dearly but seems to inevitably end up getting into scrapes despite her best intentions – including nearly causing a bushfire.  Indeed, the dreadful trauma wrought by the Victorian bushfires of 2009 are vividly presented here. At 167 pages, this is a quick yet substantial read and alongside its fellow novels, would be an excellent way to introduce children to the Holocaust without frightening them off completely.

Although perhaps less poignant than its predecessors, it is a fitting conclusion as we return to the present and see how future generations have been affected yet are still able to move ahead in a positive manner.  The memory of Zelda lives on.  I will ensure that my own children will get the opportunity to read this trilogy and recommend it to all adults too, especially when we need reminded to count our blessings.

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  1. Jamie says:

    I’ve never heard of this! Sounds really interesting!

    -Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish

  2. Stujallen says:

    I read them both then and now loved them so well written ,all the best stu

  3. admin says:

    Stu, have you read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, another child’s perspective of the Holocaust? I think Gleitzman does an even better job here, you really feel that it’s a child speaking and that connection between Felix and Zelda is electric.

  4. Iris says:

    I have never heard of this, but it sounds intriguing. I guess I have to put “Once” on my wishlist.

  5. admin says:

    They are very short reads, Iris, more children’s books than YA but a sobering read for all ages, I think. Your local library should have the series in stock.

  6. Caitlyn says:

    I’m in Intermediate school and I read the first two and I have been dying to read the final book. The bad news is I can not find it anywhere! The books portray real emotion, you just can’t put them down. I love them.

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