Stars of the Night: The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport

by Caren Stelson (Author) Selina Alko (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

"A not-to-be-missed, inspirational book about courage, heart, and the necessity of caring for others."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This powerful story is told from the collective perspective of the children who were rescued from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, as Hitler's campaign of hatred toward Jews and political dissidents took hold. The narrative starts in 1938 and follows the children as they journey to foster families in England for the duration of the war, return to Prague afterward in an unsuccessful search for their parents, and eventually connect with Nicholas Winton, a British former stockbroker who was instrumental in bringing them to safety. Winton and the Czech Kindertransport ultimately rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution.

Award-winning author Caren Stelson teams up with acclaimed illustrator Selina Alko to sensitively tell this tale of survival and defiance in the face of tyranny.

Select format:
$17.99 $19.99

Find books about:

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
A not-to-be-missed, inspirational book about courage, heart, and the necessity of caring for others.

Horn Book Magazine

Starred Review
The in-the-moment text combines with emotional acrylic, colored-pencil, and collage illustrations in Alko's (I Is for Immigrants, rev. 9/21) signature style to create a dreamlike atmosphere.


Refugee stories won't be unfamiliar even to younger children these days--but this one might be, especially as most other accounts of this lesser-known piece of history are aimed at older readers.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-5--While there's no shortage of Holocaust stories, Stelson has written a moving and uplifting account of a humanitarian effort that ultimately saved 669 Jewish Czech children. The Kindertransport took children from their hometown of Prague to England, where they lived with foster families while war broke out at home and most of their families were killed. The remarkable tale is told through a first-person plural that replicates the children's innocent voices and experiences; Alko's rich acrylic and collage illustrations help bring the heartbreaking historical event to life and render it accessible to a young audience. The story ends 50 years later, when the mystery of who helped the children, now grown, is revealed; Nicholas Winton, a British Jew and former banker, arranged all of it. "By saving us as children, Nicholas Winton saved our children, our grandchildren, and all their children to come." The weight of his inspiring work is inestimable. Back matter includes further information about the Kindertransport and Yad Vashem's Children's Memorial, a time line, source notes, author's note, illustrator's note, bibliography, and further reading. VERDICT A necessary and inspirational book about a little-known light amid a dark period of history, this book should find a home in all libraries.--Carrie Voliva

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Stelson (A Bowl Full of Peace) employs a communal we to narrate this story of 669 primarily Jewish children of the Czech Kindertransport rescued by British humanitarian Nicholas Winton (1909-2015). The 1938 Prague-set opening evokes sensory memories of comfortable childhoods: a picnic, sweet honey cake, ice-skating, hot cocoa. But as refugees arrive and Nazi forces approach, parents start making "arrangements" with an unnamed man. Soon, the children are told that they're "taking a holiday to England," with heartrending goodbyes preceding the children's travels to English foster homes. Five decades later, a scrapbook is unearthed, revealing Winton as the man whose planning saved not only them, but also "our children, our grandchildren, and all their children to come." Impressionistic acrylic, collage, and pencil art by Alko (I Is for Immigrants) is embellished throughout with sparkling stars and round yellow orbs--reminders of "the stars of the night and the sun of the day" that, the children's parents' say, are "the messenger of our thoughts and love," as well as, perhaps, of Winton's indomitable spirit. An afterword provides extensive historical detail. Ages 7-11. Author's agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator's agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Feb.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes


Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publication date
February 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JNF053240 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Topics | Emigration & Immigration
JNF025130 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Military & Wars
JNF019090 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Family | Alternative Family
Library of Congress categories
Great Britain
World War, 1939-1945
Czech Republic
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Jewish children
Jewish refugees
Kindertransports (Rescue operations)

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!