Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Anna is 7 when her father disappears. In 1939 Krakow, Poland, being Jewish is enough to condemn people to death. When the Swallow Man appears – so named for his ability to conjure and communicate with birds – the unlikely pair reluctantly recognize in each other not only a shared dexterity with multiple languages, but even more so the growing affinity to understand one another without words.
For the duration of the terrifying war, Anna and the Swallow Man will journey through woods, travel roads, bypass horror, witness inhumanity; they will adapt again and again to other selves, with new names and different histories in order to stay hidden, in order to stay alive.
For those of you who choose to go aural (do it! do it!), British actor Allan Corduner couldn’t be a better choice as narrator. Just as he did for Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Corduner once more takes an already spectacular text and enhances its appeal even further. We’re talking pure magic.
In addition to Corduner’s enchanting narration, Anna – a startling, astonishing fiction debut for stage actor Gavriel Savit – shares numerous other overlaps with Thief: both are set during the Holocaust, both feature extraordinary young girls who manage to do more than survive in spite of unbearable circumstances, both are buoyed by the kindness of remarkable strangers who become family via experience and heart.
Most of all, both are multi-layered literary gifts of stupendous achievement that demand your attention – and adoration – now.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult