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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Yellow Star

This 2006 story of the Holocaust could be just another sad story, but it is different.

Told in the first person by a woman whose aunt by marriage lived it, this story is told in blank verse--like a poem except that it doesn't rhyme. This format allows the reader time to actually visualize the events him/herself, since there is not a lot of description. It also gives it a certain "ghostly" quality.

Beginning in 1939 when the main character, Syvvia, is only 4 1/2 years old, we have a "child's-eye view" of what Polish Jews went through during this very difficult time when the Nazis were trying to figure out "what to do" with the Jews in Lodz, Poland. What they did was to put them in a ghetto, an overcrowded slum area that they created just for this purpose. Reaching a high of 270,000 residents at one point, by war's end, only 800 people had survived--and only 12 of them were children, the Nazis' "special" targets. The Nazis figured that if they started with the children, they could more easily wipe out the Jews they hated so much.

The Nazis used several tricks to get parents to put their children on the trains which were, in fact, heading to the concentration camps. It was only through her father's carefulness and cleverness that Syvvia was never sent away and that she lived to tell this terrifying story.

This is a good book by which to introduce this topic to children. It contains no graphically disturbing scenes, although it does not pretend they didn't happen. There are, however, some sections that might need explanation by or discussion with adults.

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