Kid’s Review: The House by the Lake

Kid’s Review: The House by the Lake

About the Book and Author

This stunning picture book, beautifully illustrated throughout by Britta Teckentrup, is an adaptation for younger readers of Thomas Harding’s Costa-shortlisted biography The House by the Lake which tells the remarkable and moving true story about a house by a lake in Germany.

On the outskirts of Berlin, a wooden cottage stands on the shore of a lake. Over the course of a century, this little house played host to a loving Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, wartime refugees and a Stasi informant; in that time, a world war came and went, and the Berlin Wall was built a stone’s throw from the cottage’s back door.

The narrative is told from an original perspective; the house witnessed happy and not-so-happy times as well as periods of loneliness until it was discovered and rescued by the author.

With words that read like a haunting fairy tale this is a very special and thought-provoking book which will help children to consider Germany’s 20th Century history. It is published by Walker Books.

The House by the Lake cover
Thomas Harding author

Thomas Harding is a bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 16 languages. He has written for the Sunday Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, among other publications. He is the author of Hanns and Rudolf  which won the JQ-Wingate Prize for Non-Fiction; The House by the Lake, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and a Radio 4 Book of the Week; and Blood of the Page which won the Crime Writers’ Association “Golden Dagger Award for Non-Fiction. To find out more about the author visit his website.

Illustrator Britta Teckentrup was born in Hamburg in Germany but now lives in the UK. She lived in a house opposite a forest and remembers playing outside a lot with her friends. She read a lot as a child and used to draw pictures based on the characters in those stories.
After school, Britta moved to London to study illustration at St Martin’s College of Art, followed by an MA in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art. She has taught at art colleges and has worked for some years as a web designer – but always returned to illustrating children’s books and making images.

As an artist Britta illustrated her first children’s book, Coyote Makes Man, straight after finishing her BA in 1992. Since then she has illustrated many more books and is now also writing her own stories.  Britta has worked on projects for the BBC including designing for the Teletubbies and the Tweenies. Britta’s pictures have been used in various contexts including publishing (book covers), murals for schools, advertising, editorial (including Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and New Scientist) and exhibitions, which regularly take place in London galleries.

Book Review

It made me feel hooked and the stunning illustrations brought it to life

Review by 8 year old Freddie:

The book The House by the Lake is a wonderful, historical book showing big events in the German timeline. It is about a house and the four different families who escape there from the city to live there over a period of 100 years. It is also a good mix of genres.

It made me feel hooked and the stunning illustrations brought it to life. It is set in Berlin, Germany. This fantastic book is truly great for people eager to learn about World War 2 and the Berlin Wall. I definitely would recommend this book because  I think that other children will like it too!


Feedback from Mrs Haynes, Class 3 Teacher at Milecastle Primary School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne:

The book this afternoon is absolutely wonderful! The illustrations are beautiful and it fits perfectly with my lessons as this term we are focussing on illustrators and how pictures can help to tell a story.

We read it together as a class and every child wrote a book review. They all gave it 5 stars and from a teacher’s perspective I can say that it led to so many brilliant discussions about Germany and WW2.

Thank you – it has improved everyone’s confidence in writing and Freddie is thrilled to have his review published on-line.


Page Preview

If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from an independent book shop. If you don’t know where your closest shop is you can search here

Find Bookshop

You won’t need persuading that indie bookshops are unique, integral to your community and refuges for readers to browse and enjoy making new discoveries inside. Please support your high street and shop local.

Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian, if you cannot find the book on its shelves.

Either way, we hope you enjoy being part of your unique community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Freddie
  • Age: 8 years
  • Likes: Writing, anything creative and dancing
  • Dislikes: Snakes and ghosts
  • Favourite Book: The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig
  • Favourite Film: Descendants 3
  • Favourite Song: Chandelier by Sia