AGE: 11 up
Yona Tepper's autobiographical novel describes the evacuation of children from Kibbutz Dafna during the 1948 War of Independence. The narrator is Galila, a perceptive 11-year-old who charms readers with her gentle charisma.
Galila and her companions first sense that something is wrong when their friendly Arab neighbors become nasty and even raid the kibbutz fields. When Israeli soldiers camp at the kibbutz and an Arab attack destroys its bridge, Galila confronts death for the first time. Soon war breaks out and the children are evacuated to Haifa, while their parents stay behind to defend their home.
Through Galila's eyes, we sense the children's longing for their parents and for the comfort of home: the kibbutz dining hall, the children's dormitories, the communal chores. Tepper portrays not only the children's anxiety about their parents, but also their excitement at being part of a historical process that is transforming their world.
Illustrations: Avi Katz