Jewish Historical Fiction
for Older Readers:
The Good Liar
By Gregory Maguire
Hoping for a good grade on their World War II project, three Florida girls write a letter of
questions to Marcel Delarue, an artist who grew up in occupied France. In reply, he sends a
long letter that becomes the text of this first-person novel. After he sketches in the background
(a village in the middle of France), and the central characters (Marcel, his two brothers, and
their mother), their story begins to unfold. The framework of the letters gradually disappears
from readers' consciousness as Marcel's childhood observations and experiences become
increasingly compelling. The three brothers are convincingly imperfect in their actions, childlike
in their attitudes, and human in their reactions to events and emotions. Marcel's innocent, often
silly lies and escapades are eventually shadowed by the realization of certain misunderstood
conversations and events that add up to a larger lie. Marcel's mother finally lets him in on the
secret to keep him from unwittingly revealing it: for more than a year, a Jewish woman and her
daughter have been hiding in a secret crawl space in their home, coming out only at night when
the children are asleep. Quietly told, this absorbing story carries the conviction of memoir rather
than invention. Another memorable story of World War II.
Three girls doing a school assignment on World War II write a letter to an artist they've seen on TV when they learn he grew up in the Loire Valley of France during the war. Marcel Delarue responds to their questions by telling his family's story, which is the basis of this novel. Marcel, his two brothers, and his mother lead ordinary rural lives, enlivened by the boys' favorite game-telling outrageous lies. The German occupation has only a minimal impact on them, at least at first. The major disruption for them is the arrival of their Uncle Anton and two of his friends. Madame Cauverian and her daughter are Jews who are trying to get out of the country, but are delayed by the girl's illness. While nothing overt has yet happened to France's Jewish population, the woman is convinced they are in danger. When a rabbi and his followers are rounded up, this fear is confirmed. Later, when Marcel and his brother Ren are told that the guests have left, their mother makes a scene in the local market, storming at the soldiers about taking them away, when in reality she is hiding them. In the meantime, the boys have secretly befriended a German soldier. The lies mount up, until finally the best liar of all is revealed. The strength of this book is its portrayal of the quiet heroism of ordinary citizens during the war. It is, by turns, amusing and gripping, and told in an engaging manner
Mission to World War II (Time Machine #11)
By Susan Nanus and Marc Kornblatt
Emanuel Ringleblum was a famous freedom fighter and historian during World War II and the Holocaust. He has hidden several incriminating documents about the Nazis, and it is your mission is to travel back to Warsaw, Poland, and retrieve these documents. There are informers and spies in every corner, so you have to be on your toes at all times!
The Time Machine series challenges young readers to use their imagination and decision-making skills to write their own story. Options in the text allow readers to choose any path they like within the plot. Readers must draw on background information about the period to make the right choices. This makes the series a great educational device for youngsters to learn about history and all the different cultures, events, and periods that shaped it.
This book made such an impression on me when I read it as a child that, years later, I alluded to the events depicted in its opening scene--the forced entry of the Jews of Warsaw into the ghetto after the Nazis took over--in a college application essay. I am shocked that some people know nothing about the Holocaust except what they learned from "Schindler's List"; my mother bought this book for me to help make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten, and we're not even Jewish. From the extraordinarily moving scene where the reader meets an old friend who says he/she looks like someone who died in the war, and can't reveal his/her true identity without revealing too much about time travel, to the transcendent calm of the scene at the library in Israel and the sense of triumph from tragedy of the final scene, this is surely one of the most deeply memorable books in the superb and now sadly out-of-print "Time Machine" series. Order this book to see if Amazon.com can find it for you. And never forget.
The Lady with the Hat
By Uri Orlev
Yulek, a seventeen-year-old Holocaust survivor, finds himself tragically alone at war's end. Hoping to begin again, he makes his way to Palestine, where he meets a sad and beautiful Jewish girl named Theresa. Saved from the Nazis by Catholic nuns, Theresa, like Yulek, is uncertain about her place in the postwar world. Together they struggle to rediscover the joy of living. Meanwhile, a mysterious English woman sets out on her own search for the long-lost nephew that she has spotted in a newspaper photo of Jewish refugees. Perhaps by finding him, she will also find some long-hidden part of herself.
Yulek is a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. Returning to his hometown after the war, he soon realizes that there's no room in Poland for him, and he decides to go to Palestine. Meanwhile his aunt Malka, who moved to England years ago is now Melanie, Lady Faulkner. She has seen a picture of a group of Jewish Displaced Persons and has recognized Yulek. It is his resemblance to his father, her brother that catches her attention. The struggle to get to Palestine makes up the major part of the story. Yulek grapples with Poles, Italians, and the British Army. Melanie's struggles with the British Army are made easier by her husband's position. She knows who Yulek is, but will he accept her? Yulek's need for love and family are almost overwhelming. A fascinating story for ages 12 up.
Katarina : A Novel
By Kathryn Winter
In The Children We Remember, Chana Byers Abells recounts that
some Jewish children survived the Holocaust "rescued by Christian families"
or "pretend[ing] to be non-Jews." Eight-year-old Katarina of Slovakia is
such a child. Orphaned Katar¡na has been lovingly raised by her aunt Lena.
Despite their lack of religiosity, they are Jewish, and Aunt Lena worries
about their survival. When Katarina's first-person account of her ordeal
opens, she is feigning scarlet fever - her quarantine buys them some
precious time to plot their escape. At their new home, a young maid,
believing Katarina a heathen, schools the child in the history of saints;
Katarina's whole-hearted embrace of Catholicism turns out to be an asset
when Lena sends her away as a Christian orphan. Katarina is delighted to
not wear the Star of David (all she "knew about being Jewish was to be
ashamed"), but despite Katarina's prayers to the Holy Mother, she is
exposed as a Jew and sent away again. The author captures the near-madness
of the child as she roams the countryside hungry and alone, distrustful of
everyone. Her final war home, a Protestant orphan-age, confounds Katarina:
a Jew by birth and a devout, practicing Catholic with her secret rosary and
picture cards of the saints, she must now reveal neither identity. Winter
documents Katarina's confusion not only about her religion but also about
her homeland: how can one be a good Slovak and still wish the enemies of
one's country to win the war? A year after the liberation, Katarina returns to
her village certain of her reunion with her aunt. There is no joyful meeting;
Katarina's village has been decimated. Katarina's joy, Winter reminds us,
rests in her memories of those she loved; it is those memories replayed with
which the novel concludes.
Astonishing for its uncanny grace and dexterity in handling harrowing subject matter ... First-rate fiction, it marks the author as someone to watch
She offers richly detailed memories and asks the reader to serve as witness to the events these memories recount.
The Secret of Gabi's Dresser
By Kathy Kacer
Combining heart-pounding drama with an engrossing tale of love and support, this i
s an enthralling work of historical fiction for readers over eight. The story begins
in 1999 with three children questioning their grandmother about a treasured cabinet
in her dining room. In response, she recounts how as a young Jewish girl she lived
on a family farm in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. She describes her
community before the Nazi occupation and the events that unfolded afterwards. When
the Nazis conducted house searches for Jewish children, Gabi's mother successfully
hid her in her dining-room dresser. The only thing retrieved from the family home
after the war was the dresser that saved Gabi's life.
Shadow of the Wall
By Christa Laird
This intense novel tells the story of Misha and his family, whose fictional lives in the Warsaw Ghetto intersect with the true story of Janusz Korczak, the brave man who struggled to maintain his home for orphans until he was deported, with all his children, to the death camp at Treblinka.
The inhumanity forced upon the Jews in Warsaw during World War II is wrenchingly told through the fictional family of 13-year-old Misha Edelman, who, following his father's death, feels responsible for his ailing mother and two younger sisters, Rachel and Elena. Living in the Orphans' Home operated by the heroic "Mister Doctor" Korczak, Misha risks his life by smuggling to support those he loves. Death becomes a daily occurrence as the Nazis deport thousands to the concentration camp at Treblinka. After his mother's death and having smuggled Elena to the Aryan side of the wall, he increasingly seeks action, some way to contribute to the growing resistance movement. In a scene that is appropriately stomach-churning, Misha conquers his fears to escape through the sewers to the Aryan side where he enters training with the resistance. Strong emotions are evoked, particularly when Dr. Korczak and the orphans, including Rachel, are deported past the shop window in which Misha works with the underground. While lacking the machine-gun impact of violent death and horror that characterizes Aaron's Gideon, this book has a pathos about it that will make it memorable to those readers sensitive enough to pursue its descriptions of deprivation, hunger, and hope. A postscript details the facts upon which the book was based, including information about the characters in the story who are based on real people.
Bleak reality lies behind Shadow of the Wall, the tale of a boy of thirteen in an orphan's home in Warsaw. . . . The hauling of the baby over the wall in a basket, the mourning of a friend for his smashed violin, the final desperate escape through a sewer under the guidance of the bitterly streetwise Adzin--these and other scenes are starkly and sincerely drawn. A book like this can be an effective sermon against war and, more valuably, a proclamation of thestrength of the human spirit.
But Can the Phoenix Sing?
By Christa Laird
Thrilling action and complex moral issues combine in a
Holocaust survivor story, a sequel to Shadow of
the Wall. Misha Edelman, now settled in
England, remembers his teenage experience after he
escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto: first he was a partisan
fighter in the Polish forest in 1942; then he returned to
Warsaw as an underground courier for the resistance;
he spent several months as a prisoner of the Germans
(always hiding his Jewish identity); finally he came to
England. Misha tells his story in a long letter to his stepson,
Richard, and Richard's occasional notes to his girlfriend
add a contemporary commentary; but the framework
becomes too heavy, especially when Richard reveals his
involvement in a recent anti-Semitic high-school prank.
What's splendid about this story is the account of the
partisans. The writing is intense as Misha remembers the
courage and terror of the forest action and then his
loneliness and grief, his guilt at having survived his family
and the young woman he loved. Teens will be held by
Misha's haunting discovery that cruelty and tenderness
can co-exist "not just in one culture or country . . . but in
one person even."
Mischling, 2nd Degree: My Childhood in Nazi Germany
By Ilse Koehn
Ilse Koehn is classified a Mischling, second degree citizen in Nazi Germany. Although Ilse doesn't know it, her grandmother is Jewish. Ilse's parents teach her to pretend to be a loyal German, and she join the Hitler Youth Movement. During the war, she is sent to evacuation camps to avoid the constant bombing in Berlin, scrounges for food with her grandmother, and hides with her mother from Russian soldiers. Throughout all the terror and deprivation, however, Ilse manages to find moments of pleasure. And her family guards their dangerous secret, for nothing is more important than survival...
By Mary Baylis-White
A school project prompts Clarissa to ask her Australian grandmother about her
memories of childhood. Nan relates her memories of growing up in England
during World War II and especially her friendship with Rebecca, a Jewish
refugee whose parents and brother are still in Germany. At first Sally (Nan)
almost envies Rebecca since she is staying with the wealthy Mrs. Trevelyan
and has many advantages, but she gradually realizes the pain and fear for her
family Rebecca is suffering. The war years pass, the girls grow, and a few
incidents stand out: the bullying by some boys, the billeting of Sally's bombed
out grandfather in the same estate with Rebecca, Rebecca's outburst when the
class is told they will study The Merchant of Venice . At war's end, the only
member of Rebecca's family to survive is her brother, Helmut. Clarissa then
realizes that Helmut is her grandfather, rounding the story to a satisfying conclusion.
Chanan and His Violin and Other Stories
By Gershon Kranzler
Venture behind the walls of the Warsaw ghetto and bear
witness to the legendary spirit and defiance of the young
Chanan and his violin.
Summer of My German Soldier
By Bette Greene
When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German
prisoners during World War II, 12-year-old Patty Bergen learns what it means to
open her heart. Although she's Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton,
not as a Nazi--but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own,
who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is
willing to risk losing family, friends--even her freedom--for what has quickly become
the most important part of her life. Thoughtful, moving, and hard-hitting, Summer
of My German Soldier has become a modern classic.
Morning Is a Long Time Coming
By Bette Greene
Graduating from Jenkinsville High School marks a new beginning for Patty Bergen. It's
been a long time since she's been called a "Jew Nazi lover," but before she can face her
future, she must come to terms with her past. For although Anton, the escaped German
POW whom Patty sheltered when she was a twelve-year-old girl, has been dead for six
years, her feelings for him will not die.
Driven by a need to find the love her parents denied her, Patty decides to go to Germany in search of Anton's mother, desperate for a connection to the man she loved and lost. En route to her destination, she stops in Paris, where she meets Roger. The encounter makes Patty think twice about her plan--not only because of what she might find, but because of what she must leave behind....
The Sequel to Summer of My German Soldier
By Lynne Kositsky
Anya wishes she celebrated X-mas like her friends. Then she receives her grandmother's
treasured menorah as a Chanukah gift. As she lights each successive candle, Anya travels
back in time to Nazi Germany, and begins to understand she is not the first to face a dilemma
This was an excellent book. I started to read it, and once I started, could not put it down ... The surprise ending turns an otherwise somewhat predicatable book (though with interesting twists and turns) into, basically, one big surprise.
It Can't Happen Here
(Sweet Valley Twins, No 86)
By Francine Pascal
The most dangerous game...|
Social studies class gets a lot more exciting when a visiting teacher, Mr. Levin, comes to Sweet Valley Middle School to teach the students a game. The rules are simple: Mr. Levin tells the students what to wear the next day, and they get points for obedience and demerits for disobedience. They get extra points for ratting on anyone who disobeys.
Everyone loves the game, especially Aaron Dallas, who is determined to be the best player of all. But Elizabeth Wakefield thinks something is fishy. Why is it so important that everyone dress the exact same way? And if it's just a game, why is everyone taking it so seriously?
During a school project based on the Holocaust,a bad-spirited boy will lead a hooked group of followers in a crusade of discrimination and hate.
David and Jonathan
By Cynthia Voigt
A sweeping novel about pain, healing, and enduring friendship. Henry
and Jonathan have been best friends since fifth grade, but that changes
when Jonathan's cousin David, a Holocaust survivor, comes to live
with the family. As David and Jonathan spend more time together,
Henry struggles with his own jealousy and confusion.