Children T. Degens On the Third Ward

ISBN 13: 9780060214289

On the Third Ward

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9780060214289: On the Third Ward

Confined to a tuberculosis ward in Germany in the early 1950s, a group of children deal with life, death, and plans to escape while listening to the fantastic stories of a mysterious patient, the "Empress of China."

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From Publishers Weekly:

"Watching Albert die, I'd thought it wasn't that difficult," begins this disturbing and challenging novel from the author of Transport 7-41-R . Set in post-WW II Germany, the story follows young Wanda's admittance to a hospital for tubercular children and her subsequent progress--and deterioration. She and the three other girls who share a room fight off their very tangible fear of death by staging minor rebellions (Wanda routinely throws away part of her breakfast; another buries plum pits in her cast to confound the doctors who will study her X-rays), by inventing math problems ("If my father reminds me to say please once during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, how often does he put in the very same request in 1, 2, 7, 21, 81 years? With dinner only"?) and, especially, by seeking refuge in the stories told by one of them, the so-called Empress of China. As Wanda, thoroughly isolated from the world beyond her ward, becomes habituated to the pronounced mortality of her fellow patients, both she and the author blur distinctions between the hospital and the fantasy kingdom that the Empress of China designs. The sophistication of the narrative and its strong, unvarnished themes demand maturity from readers. Ages 11-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 6-9-- Young girls in a tuberculosis sanitorium in Germany shortly after World War II share fears, fantasies, concerns, and support one another emotionally in this beautifully written, unforgettable novel. While death hovers as an omnipresent threat throughout, the novel's focus is on layers of reality. All the girls have "real" names and nicknames, "real" earlier lives, their present lives in the ward, and their fantasy lives (which sometimes seem more real than either of the other two). Even their illness is unreal: P. B. was incorrectly diagnosed and has spent years in a body cast needlessly. Readers view it largely through the eyes of Wanda, who delights in the stories the mystical "Empress of China" tells; engineers an abortive flight from the ward to look for a Chinese garden; and ultimately takes the place of the Empress, who dies. Unfortunately, the dreamlike quality of the narration and the many layers of reality distance readers from the characters. The shifts from fantasy to reality and vice versa further remove readers from the story. Though always interesting and often compelling, the book may have difficulty finding an audience. --Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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T. Degens
Published by Harpercollins Childrens Books (1990)
ISBN 10: 0060214287 ISBN 13: 9780060214289
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