This reading group guide for Children and Fire includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.INTRODUCTION
Ursula Hegi's Burgdorf Cycle encompasses 4 novels set in the fictional German village of Burgdorf: Stones from the River, Floating in my Mother’s Palm
, The Vision of Emma Blau
, and now Children and Fire. Children and Fire
is the story of a single day, February 27, 1934, exactly one year after the burning of the Reichstag (German Parliament.) It is a day that will forever transform the lives of the townspeople.
At the core of this remarkable novel is the question how one teacher, Thekla Jansen—gifted and joyful, passionate and inventive—can become seduced by propaganda during the early months of Hitler’s regime and encourage her 10-year-old students to join the Hitler Youth, believing that membership—hikes and songs and bonfires and uniforms—will be a step toward better schools, better apprenticeships, a better future.
How can a woman we admire choose a direction we don't admire? So much has changed for Thekla, and the people of Burgdorf in the past year. Thekla's lover, Emil Hesping, i