Thursday, February 7, 2002

Peace Rebel: Young Teen “Promise of Zion” Continues

Robert Elmer’s Peace Rebel picks up the exciting story begun in Promise Breaker, this time focusing more directly on Dov Zalinski and Emily Parkinson. Dov is finally in Palestine, having been pushed off his ship and rescued from the waters by Emily Parkinson. Before long, the two children are gathered and sent with other refugees to a kibbutz (Jewish farm).

Emily is quite upset at being separated from her father and having to suffer the humiliating experiences of illegal Jews. Indignant and impatient, she tries to take matters into her own hands when it seems no one else will help take her back to her parents. However, she soon gets more than she expected and finds her life in danger.

Dov quickly becomes restless with life at the kibbutz, and also seeks a way out, to find his long-lost parents in Jerusalem. His anger and stubbornness often get the best of him, pulling him away from those who try to help him. Dov’s and Emily’s experiences pull them together, to friendship in spite of their differences.

Peace Rebel introduces new characters while omitting several main characters from the previous book, such as Emily’s parents and other relatives. Henrik Melchior, a Danish boy about 15 or 16, enjoys life on the kibbutz. A friendly, outgoing boy who tries to help Dov and Emily, Henrik is a Jewish Christian with a heart for Jewish refugees, desiring to tell them of the “Peace Rebel,” Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus). Readers of Robert Elmer’s previous children’s series, “The Young Underground,” will enjoy this follow-up about Henrik, one of the main characters in that World War II series.

Other interesting characters in Peace Rebel include a group of American tourists, an event based on an actual visit by such tourists to the Holy Land in 1947. This story includes more background about the Jewish terrorists of the time, who sought violent means to force Britain’s hand and allow Jews to come to Israel. Along the way, Dov is tempted. Should he follow the way of peace, or the way of war and violence?

Peace Rebel brings another exciting action-packed episode to the “Promise of Zion” series, with another cliff-hanging end to be picked up in a third book. Currently the first four books in this series have been published, with a 5th one due out in March 2002.

Friday, February 1, 2002

Promise Breaker: A Young Teen Look at Israel in 1947

Robert Elmer’s “Promise of Zion” series for pre-teens and young teenagers tells the story of Israel becoming a nation shortly after World War II. It is Europe and Palestine, 1947, and many Jews that survived the holocaust find themselves unwelcome in many European countries. Many end up in displaced persons camps, and Palestine’s allure is strong. The British rule the place of so much controversy, and use their military might to keep illegal immigrants out. But a few still manage to sneak into the country.

Promise Breaker, the first book in the series, introduces 13-year-old Dov Zalinski, a Polish Jew abandoned by his parents at the outbreak of World War II, when he was only 5. Years of life in an orphanage, followed by Nazi work camps, have hardened the boy, who trusts no one and insists he can get by on his own. His parents long ago promised that the family would move to Jerusalem. Now, stuck in a camp for displaced orphans, Dov decides to run away and find his family, whether they be in Warsaw or Jerusalem.

Emily Parkinson, also age 13, has lived in Jerusalem with her family since age 5. The only child of British Major Parkinson, Emily is spoiled and demanding. She always knows how to get what she wants from her father, but this year her actions will get her into more problems than her father can rescue her from.

The action-adventure story alternately follows the lives of Dov and Emily, showing both sides of the difficult situation. Through Dov, we encounter the Mossad, a Jewish group which sent its agents throughout Europe, helping Jews travel to “Eretz Israel,” and the difficulties that Jewish traveling groups faced. Emily’s father portrays the hard-line British military stance, determined to stop the immigrant ships. Fiery-tempered and lacking compassion, he assumes that all the incoming Jews are violent and connected with recent terrorism, such as hotel bombings. To make for interesting family relationships, the Major’s brother, Anthony, is married to a Jewish Christian woman. Emily unquestioningly trusts her father, yet wonders at things she sees at Uncle Anthony’s home.

The action-packed story never lets up, with an entertaining story suitable for pre-teens and young teens, showing life for holocaust survivors --without the many horrifying events of the death camps. Dov clearly suffers, trying hard not to remember the past. The author adds interesting background notes at the end, telling which parts of the story are true, and sources for further information. The character of Dov Zalinski was based on many events that happened to an actual Jewish Holocaust survivor, and the author interviewed him in preparation for the “Promise of Zion” series.