Milkweed

A stunning novel of the Holocaust from a Newbery MedalistHe’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Filthy son of Abraham.He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself, and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels.He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi, with tall, shiny jackboots of his own-until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind.And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable-Nazi-occupied Warsaw during World War II-and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young Holocaust orphan.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 2

A Faraway Island

Torn from their homeland, two Jewish sisters find refuge in Sweden. It’s the summer of 1939. Two Jewish sisters from Vienna12-year-old Stephie Steiner and 8-year-old Nellieare sent to Sweden to escape the Nazis. They expect to stay there six months, until their parents can flee to Amsterdam; then all four will go to America. But as the world war intensifies, the girls remain, each with her own host family, on a rugged island off the western coast of Sweden. Nellie quickly settles in to her new surroundings. She’s happy with her foster family and soon favors the Swedish language over her native German. Not so for Stephie, who finds it hard to adapt; she feels stranded at the end of the world, with a foster mother who’s as cold and unforgiving as the island itself. Her main worry, though, is her parentsand whether she will ever see them again. From the Hardcover edition.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 2

Black Radishes

It is March of 1940. The French believe that their army can protect them from Nazi Germany. But is Paris a safe place for Jews? Gustavers”s parents donrs”t think so. Forced to leave behind his best friend, the mischievous Marcel, and his cousin Jean-Paul, Gustave moves with his mother and father to Saint-Georges, a small village in the countryside. During April and May, Nazi Germany invades one country after another. In June, the French army is defeated, and Paris is occupied. Saint-Georges is still part of the free zone, but the situation there is becoming increasingly precarious. Then Gustave meets Nicole, a Catholic girl who works for the French Resistance. Along with her father, Nicole tries to find a way to smuggle Jean-Paul, Marcel, and their families into Free France so that they can all escape to America. It is Gustave, however, who comes up with a plan that just might work. But going into Occupied France is a risky thing to do when you are Jewish. Inspired by her fatherrs”s experiences as a Jewish child living in France during World War II, Susan Lynn Meyer tells the story of a familyrs”s day-to-day struggles in a country that may not be able to keep its promise of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.”

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 4, Issue 1

Ashes

Thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm’s favorite pastime is reading. With Adolf Hitler slowly but unstoppably rising to power, Gaby turns to her books for comfort while the world around her changes dramatically: The streets become filled with soldiers, her sister’s boyfriend raises his arm in a heil Hitler salute, and the Schramm’s family friend Albert Einstein flees the country. When Gaby’s beloved books come under attack, she fears she may have to leave behind the fiction and the life she has always cherished.

Chicken Foot Farm

On the eve of World War II, young Alejandro comes of age on his family’s South Texas farm, known as Chicken Foot Farm because of how his mother marks her chicks. “Mama held the chick against her breast and splayed its left foot between her thumb and index finger. With her free hand she… quickly cut off the end of the chick’s shortest toe.” Rich with the customs and traditions of rural, Mexican-American life, Chicken Foot Farm depicts a multi-generational family in flux as change crawls relentlessly toward their land and lifestyle. As the seasons–and loved ones–come and go and misfortunes befall the family, Alejandro learns the lessons of life: the importance of family, honesty, hard work, and compassion. When the kitchen burns down one night, Alejandro feels they have lost something integral to their family unity. But his father promises they will build another kitchen, the new one better than the old. As Abuela Luciana ages, she begins to behave erratically, burning tortillas, forgetting to add water to the beans she is cooking, and even disappearing from the farm. She is certain someone has cursed her–put mal de ojo on her. How can the family cure her when she is the curandera, the one who has always taken care of them? Most importantly, Alejandro works hard to win his father’s approval, even though Papa generally ignores him in favor of the eldest son, Ernesto, who Papa says will inherit the farm. When Ernesto joins the Army, the family must face the possibility that he may not return as the entire country is thrown into the uncertainty of war. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, young Alejandro notices something new in his family’s kitchen: a framed United States flag now hangs on the wall. “It’s something I can do for the war,” his Abuela Luciana tells him. Not understanding, she explains to him, “I can remind people that we are Americans.” In these poignant images of a time and place long gone, Anne Estevis sketches a tight-knit, Mexican-American community on the cusp of a new way of life as tractors replace mules and modern science competes with superstitious beliefs.

Star of Luis

When Luís’s father joins the army shortly after the start of World War II, Luís’s entire life changes. His mother decides to return to the dusty New Mexican village where she and her husband grew up. In Los Angeles, Luís had struggled to find a place in his ethnically diverse neighborhood and had been intimidated into ending a close friendship with a Jewish boy. In Las Manos, everyone is Hispanic and Catholic like Luís, but the way of life seems backward and slow. Luís and his mother stay in a cramped bungalow with his dying grandfather and sullen grandmother, and Luís must share a bed with his uncle, a priest. Then, just as Luís begins to feel more comfortable in Las Manos, he learns an settling fact-his family is not Catholic after all. They are Jewish, a secret that has been kept for generations. Angry and confused, Luís realizes he must confront his feelings about family, religion, and friends, and ultimately make his own decision about who he is. Glossary of Spanish words.