The Boy Who Didn't Want to Die by Peter Lantos (author)

The Boy Who Didn't Want to Die

Suitable for 11 - 13 years

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Product description

Deeply moving” – Booktrust“A gripping story of love, courage and triumph over evil” - The Bookseller“Can, and should, be read by an audience of any age.” – Jewish NewsA story of survival, of love between mother and son and of enduring hope in the face of unspeakable hardship. An important read. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die describes an extraordinary journey, made by Peter, a boy of five, through war-torn Europe in 1944 and 1945. Peter and his parents set out from a small Hungarian town, travelling through Austria and then Germany together. Along the way, unforgettable images of adventure flash one after another: sleeping in a tent and then under the sky, discovering a disused brick factory, catching butterflies in the meadows – and as Peter realises that this adventure is really a nightmare – watching bombs falling from the blue sky outside Vienna, learning maths from his mother in Belsen. All this is drawn against a background of terror, starvation, infection and, inevitably, death, before Peter and his mother can return home.

  • Author Professor Peter Lantos is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and in his previous life was an internationally renowned clinical neuroscientist. His memoir, Parallel Lines (Arcadia Books, 2006) was translated into Hungarian, German and Italian. Closed Horizon (Arcadia, 2012) was his first novel.
  • Peter was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2020 for ‘services to Holocaust education and awareness’.
  • He is one of the last of the generation of survivors and this – his first book for children – will serve as a testimony to his experience.
  • Peter lives in London.

MORE REVIEWS OF THE BOY WHO DIDN’T WANT TO DIE “the book [is] absolutely compelling, partly because it is a true story of extraordinary resilience and survival in unimaginable circumstances, but also because Lantos’ stark recollections make very powerful reading.”Gaby Wine, The Jewish Chronicle

Our January 2023 Ages 11+ Book of the Month

Our choice for children aged 11+ this month is The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die, the extraordinary real-life story from Peter Lantos, a Holocaust survivor.

This is the story of an incredible journey, made by Peter, a boy of just five, through war-torn Europe in 1944 and 1945. Along the journey we see unforgettable images of adventure – sleeping in a tent and under the sky; catching butterflies in meadows; discovering a disused brick factory – until Peter realises that the adventure is really a nightmare. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die is a story about survival, love and of enduring hope in the face of unspeakable hardship.

This is an important and unforgettable book written by one of the last survivors of the Holocaust and deftly introduces young readers to the story of the Holocaust. It’s also a great choice for children to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January.

Su – Book Club Editor, Ages 7–11+
Su – Book Club Editor, Ages 7–11+

Product Details

Catalogue number

454 in Setanta Teen March 2024, 667 in Setanta Primary January 2024, 827 in Setanta SCB December 2023 and 8122 in Schools Catalogue 2024–25







Date published

January 5th, 2023

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Accelerated Reader

AR book level: 5.4; Middle years; 6.0 points

Other details

  • 224 pages



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