Customer Reviews for

The Devil's Arithmetic

Average Rating 4.5
( 174 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(115)

4 Star

(43)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Excellent introduction to the Holocaust for young readers

Hannah is a young Jewish girl who is bored with the seemingly pointless traditions of her heritage and the ranting and raving of her Holocaust survivor relatives. During the Passover Seder, she is asked to open the door for Elijah the Prophet and finds herself transport...
Hannah is a young Jewish girl who is bored with the seemingly pointless traditions of her heritage and the ranting and raving of her Holocaust survivor relatives. During the Passover Seder, she is asked to open the door for Elijah the Prophet and finds herself transported to a small Polish village in the 1940's.


Now known as Chaya, she is overwhelmed by the change in setting and wonders if her memories of a modern world are real or just a forgotten dream. At a wedding ceremony, the entire village is rounded up by Nazis and Hannah remembers the terrible things that are about to happen to the Jewish villagers.


Despite her pleas and protests, history continues to unfold in the same way and the journey of the villagers and Hannah to a concentration camp is described in vivid detail. Hannah is forced to experience the harsh conditions and inhumane treatment that her older relatives had described to her a lifetime ago. At the novel's grim climax, Hannah finally understands the importance of sacrifice, and subsequently, of remembering the horrible events of the past.


Although the subject matter is heavy, this is a great book for introducing young readers to the Holocaust. It is accurate in its details, seemingly derived from Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz (AKA, Is This a Man?) and other sources. Yolen's narrative structure is very well-suited toward drawing in readers who might not be interested in the subject.


[Disclosure: This review also appears on FingerFlow.com, a site for review and discussion of creative works.]

posted by JosephCopeli on August 5, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

from a teacher's view

I ordered this book from Scholastic for my classroom. After reading it, I realize that it is more suited for Jr. High or High School students than 4th graders. Although I think that younger students benefit from learning about the Holocaust, I think books more like N...
I ordered this book from Scholastic for my classroom. After reading it, I realize that it is more suited for Jr. High or High School students than 4th graders. Although I think that younger students benefit from learning about the Holocaust, I think books more like Number the Stars are more age appropriate for 9 and 10 year olds. being sent to a concentration camp. The story told has a magical element of time travel, that she had a hard time selling to me. However, the purpose and story is there.

posted by PricelessReads on June 10, 2010

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    from a teacher's view

    I ordered this book from Scholastic for my classroom. After reading it, I realize that it is more suited for Jr. High or High School students than 4th graders. Although I think that younger students benefit from learning about the Holocaust, I think books more like Number the Stars are more age appropriate for 9 and 10 year olds. being sent to a concentration camp. The story told has a magical element of time travel, that she had a hard time selling to me. However, the purpose and story is there.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Lesson

    This was a good short read for 5th grade and up. It's a good story to remind us all of our heritage and where we came from. But for Hannah, it's a life long rememberence not only for her, but for all of us in the world to remember the Holocaust. The book give moderate details of what a small portion of a concentration camp was like.

    This was more of a lesson for Hannah to realize why remembering was so important for her family and the Jewish people. In the end she understood.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Slow, inconsistent, but an entertaining read. I found that The D

    Slow, inconsistent, but an entertaining read.
    I found that The Devil's Arithmetic shifted from being a children's novel to a brutal retelling of the Holocaust, as if it couldn't make up its mind. Also, towards the middle of the book, it doesn't just drag, it STOPS. And then, Hannah's time in the concentration camp feels rushed, and it's over before you know it. Still, I could see that for younger readers it could be entertaining (aside from the dreadfully slow sequences), so I can say that it isn't bad, it'just really, REALLY okay.

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  • Posted May 5, 2014

    Not as good as I was hoping and not as good as people made it ou

    Not as good as I was hoping and not as good as people made it out to be. I have read much better holocaust stories, fact and fiction. I actually liked the ending of the movie better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2000

    The Devil's Arthmetic outstanding for all ages??

    Even though this book was very vivid and thought provoking it is does not portray the Holacaust in a tragic manner, as it should be presented. Young readers may read this book and get the idea that life in the camps was horrible, however a middle school student or high school student may read it and say it wasn't that bad. Young readers should definatly read this book, however, middle school and up should aim for something more thourough and discriptive such as 'If I Should Die Before I Wake,' which is a book written in a similar go back in time manner. Overall The Devil's Arithmetic is a good book for younger readers not 12 and up as it is recomended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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