Elisabeth by Nivola, Claire A. Nivola |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble


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by Nivola, Claire A. Nivola

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Forced to flee the Nazis, a young girl and her family eventually end up in the United States where, years later, with a young daughter of her own, she is improbably reunited with the beloved doll she left behind in Germany.


Forced to flee the Nazis, a young girl and her family eventually end up in the United States where, years later, with a young daughter of her own, she is improbably reunited with the beloved doll she left behind in Germany.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Illustrator Nivola (The Disobedient Eels) proves herself a sure-handed storyteller with this moving, true story from her mother's life. The narrator, remembering her girlhood in Germany, describes her doll Elisabeth ("We loved each other so dearly that we shared everything"). But after the Nazis rise to power, she and her parents flee, leaving everything behind-including Elisabeth. Decades later in the United States, she joyfully finds Elisabeth in an antiques store. Elisabeth then passes from mother to daughter to granddaughter, and "sometimes we wonder together-as I'm sure you will-how Elisabeth came to find me and mend my heart after so many years and across such a wide ocean." Enlivened by quirky anecdotes (such as the narrator's dog Fifi dragging Elisabeth around "to dance"-and thereby leaving teeth marks for later identification), the text floats smoothly atop the story's dark undercurrents, further buoyed by Nivola's radiant and tender illustrations. Though generously detailed with atmospheric particulars, her paintings never lose their focus on the protagonist's deep emotions. A story that will linger in the reader's heart. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Margaret Jackson
Elizabeth is the cherished doll of a young Jewish girl in Nazi Germany. When her family flees Germany, the girl is forced to leave Elizabeth behind. The family ends up in America, and when the young girl is a young woman with a daughter of her own, she discovers her old doll in an antique shop. She gives Elizabeth to her daughter who, years later, gives it to her daughter. Elizabeth was the real doll of Nivola's mother, Ruth. This is Ruth's story and Nivola tells it well. Her drawings are a perfect accompaniment; they have an old-fashioned look and modern appeal.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3A little girl in Germany shares every moment of her life with her beloved doll, Elisabeth, until the soldiers come and her teacher calls her "Jew." She flees with her parents to Italy, France, and, finally, America with all the family's possessions left behind, including Elisabeth. Years pass and the little girl, now a mother, has a daughter who wants a special doll. Searching through every antique store, the woman finds the very one she left behind, identifiable because of teeth marks left in the doll's arm by her mischievous dog. Still more years pass and now her granddaughter plays with it. Full-color paintings bordered by white space present a tableaux of images: a stern faced doll, a soldier with a rifle on a sunny tree-lined street, the grown-up Ruth examining the doll in the shop. This is a moving, but adult-focused remembrance of the author's mother, which raises the question of audience. The delicate art, amount of white space, and very brief text will appeal to preschoolers through first graders, but with no background built into the story, they're unlikely to understand why Ruth and her family must flee or comprehend the concept of anti-Semitism. Older children will find the story lacking in substance.Susan Pine, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A simple true reminiscence about the disruption of war and the almost unfathomable reunion that mends a woman's heart many years after it's broken.

The story opens on the eve of WW II in Germany, where the little girl (the author's mother, Ruth) lives with her family in secure surroundings. Her most beloved possession is a doll named Elisabeth. "The sun shone down on both of us and together we cast one shadow." When the family flees the Nazis, the girl can take nothing with her, not even Elisabeth. Years later, when the girl is grown and living in America, her six-year-old daughter asks for a doll that will "fill her arms like a real baby." The mother is drawn to a doll in an antique-store window and discovers that the doll is her own long-lost Elisabeth. Told in lyrical prose and illustrated in a muted palette with accents of bright color, this conveys the warmth and love of home and family, surviving across generations.

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.14(w) x 9.84(h) x 0.12(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Claire A. Nivola, painter, sculptor, and illustrator, lives in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts.

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Elisabeth 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We happened upon this book in the library and in doing so discovered one of our favorite children's books. The illustations are beautiful, simple, and pure--like the story itself. And the story-- a true one--is unforgettable, and moving beyond words. It softly tells about a young Jewish girl and her doll Elisabeth against the backdrop of Nazi Germany. The book can be read on many levels, a simple one for children, a much deeper one for adults. In the end, it left me with a feeling of hope and wonder.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this story because of my shared love of special childhood toys. If you've ever had a special object like a book or a toy that disappeared and was cherished because of the fun and warmth tied to it, you'll love this book. This book celebrates the fondness that children have for things they hold close and share everything with.