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2022 - Shortlisted
Katrina Nannestad tackles difficult themes in Rabbit, Solder, Angel, Thief: the brutalising effects of war on children and adults alike, and the redemptive possibilities of storytelling, memory and kindness. We follow the story of Sascha, a small boy growing up in rural Russia during the Second World War. After his village is invaded and then bombed by German troops — killing his family — Sascha has to fend for himself in the midst of war, forming a new family with a motley crew of Russian soldiers who embrace and protect him despite the horror unfolding around them.
While Sascha benefits from their kindness, and the kindness of other children and animals he meets along the way, his capacity for love in turn softens the trauma of war for the adults who encounter him. Material objects play an important role here, allowing Nannestad to communicate complex notions of resistance and hope, while always keeping her story engaging and accessible. This powerfully told story not only showcases Nannestad’s formidable knowledge of Russian history, but her grasp of a child’s eye view of war. This book gives children agency even in the worst of circumstances.