Dott is a 12-year old girl, growing up between the two World Wars in a village in Germany. Despite her mother’s instruction to watch her gravely ill younger sibling, she decides to leave the house at night. As she runs through the tall grass of a meadow, the flower of the Rennefarre falls into her shoe. All of a sudden, she becomes invisible to other human beings. Now, this is, of course, a big shock. For Dott, it means that she cannot return home until she finds a way out of her predicament. It is a big price to pay for being disobedient.

However, often when something bad or frightening happens to us, something good and wonderful may come of it. Dott finds to her surprise that she can understand the language of the animals and that the worlds of centuries long gone were suddenly revealed to her. The night of her enchantment is the beginning of her wonderful journey. This magical story takes its feisty main character Dott on an unforgettable journey. Flying across the country on the backs of crows and herons, Dott finds herself seeing the country not only as it is, but also as it used to be. She lives through moments in history others can only read about—meeting historical kings and fanciful spirits along the way. Her best friends are two birds, Cornix, a scruffy crow, and Gurian, an elegant blue heron, and a boy, Klaus, who plays the violin so beautifully that it makes you weep. But, even with all of the excitement of her travels, she always has one goal in mind: returning home to her family.

The book offers a fascinating array of details of day-to-day life in rural and urban areas in eastern Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, combined in a seamless fashion with the stuff of folklore and myths as well as vivid accounts of different periods of history. It is written from a child’s perspective on the diverse cultural and ethnic strains that have formed the basis for a rich and complex history of Germany and Eastern Europe. Written on the eve of World War II, the book offers a sobering perspective on the panorama of German and Eastern European history and the human potential for causing devastation. At the same time, it is filled with hope. In one scene the heroine is offered a glimpse of the future—an utterly destroyed cityscape; it inspires her to look to her own responsibilities and actions in life. Part coming-of-age story, part magical fairytale, part social-cultural portrait of Eastern Germany in the early part of the 20th century, part history lesson, the book covers real ground. That is, one could follow Dott’s travels on a map of the area.

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