Karen Hendriks reveals what ‘Home’ really means to her in this fascinating and inspiring interview about the book and the link to her family’s past. Thanks, Karen! 🙂
Karen, congratulations on the release of your heart-rending, poignant picture book, Home!
Briefly, tell us what this story is about.
War ends, yet its dark shadow remains. A family is forced to flee their home. As they journey through hunger, long cold nights, and homelessness, a heart locket whispers words of hope. And a country that’s far away, calls for those that are no longer wanted. It offers new beginnings and a precious place, once more to call home.
Home is a touching story of overcoming adversity with the message of the power of family, love and hope following the war. Inspired by your own family’s journey, why was this book important for you to write?
Between 1945 and 1946, three million Sudeten Germans were expelled from the Sudeten Mountains to Germany, Austria and the Soviet Zone. It was the largest forced refugee movement of a single population in the 20th century. I always felt the deep sadness inside my Oma about the loss of her family home. This pulled at me to write about losing home. When researching for Home I discovered that my Mum, Oma and great Oma and Opa were Sudeten Germans. My Mum was a baby when they were forced to leave their mountain village called Wunschendorf, in Czech. It is now known as Srbska. My great Opa was in still in a concentration camp for opposing Hitler. So it was my Mum as a baby, Oma and Great Oma and they walked from their village to East Germany. This story is so important to me because the plight of the Sudeten Germans is not really known and their story is my story, too.
The story includes themes of homelessness, and new beginnings. What is your biggest hope or message for children reading your book?
That there is always hope and that with strength and resilience we can overcome anything. Never give up.
Illustrator Alisa Knatko has exquisitely captured the heart and soul of the story with her rich depth and character. What do you most like about her work? How closely did you collaborate with one another?
Alisa’s work is exquisite and hauntingly beautiful and captures the essence and the mood of the story. Alisa lives in St. Petersburg in Moscow and it is not that far from where Wunshendorf was. This gives the book a unique and genuine look and feel. I love how Alisa’s work captures not only the heart of Home but brings many more layers of meaning to the story. Alisa and I do not collaborate together. She was chosen by my publisher to illustrate Home and what a wondrous choice she was. I now follow Alisa on Instagram but we have had no contact.
What is your favourite part of Home? Why?
This is tricky because I love all of Home. I do adore the opening page with the village and the train station double spread because they capture the raw emotion of the story.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating this project?
Giving a voice to the plight of Sudeten Germans and most of all creating a book for my Mum and Oma that recognises their trauma.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about Home or its own journey into the published world?
Home has a heart locket as a central character. This character is inspired by my heart locket that is my link to Wunschendorf, it has been passed down to me. I am grateful to Daisy Lane Publishing for giving a voice to Home. For once a story is known understanding and empathy develop.
Thank you for answering our questions, Karen! All the best of success with Home! 😊
Please follow Karen Hendriks at her website: karenhendriks.com (coming soon)
Alisa Knatko’s website: Alisa Knatko – Mixed media illustrator (wordpress.com)
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