4.1 7
by Mirjam Pressler, Brian Murdoch

View All Available Formats & Editions

When the roundups start, Malka's mother knows she must get her daughters-seven-year-old Malka and sixteen-year-old Minna-across the Hungarian border to safety, a place where they hope Jews can live in peace. But escape proves harder than they could have imagined, with bleeding feet, bad weather, and homesickness, and little Malka falls ill. Left behind to be brought


When the roundups start, Malka's mother knows she must get her daughters-seven-year-old Malka and sixteen-year-old Minna-across the Hungarian border to safety, a place where they hope Jews can live in peace. But escape proves harder than they could have imagined, with bleeding feet, bad weather, and homesickness, and little Malka falls ill. Left behind to be brought across when the threat has passed, Malka finds herself in a terrifying world full of strangers, starvation, and constant fear of Nazi roundups. As time passes, it becomes more and more apparent that the threat is far from over. Completely alone, Malka struggles to stay hidden, unaware that miles away, a brokenhearted mother is searching frantically for her lost little girl.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Covering the period from September 1943 to March 1944, the novel opens in a Polish village and follows the seven-year-old Jewish heroine as she flees, and her mother and sister separate from her. "Readers will not emerge from this novel unscathed," according to PW's starred review. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Translated from German, Pressler shares with readers the story of Malka Mai, a young Polish girl who fled the German roundup of Polish Jews. Although Mai is a real person, the author has fictionalized her tale, filling in the gaps that Mai was too young to remember. The story begins in September 1943, as a very young Malka, her 16-year-old sister Minna, and her mother Hannah, the town's only physician, learn from their neighbors that the German soldiers who occupy the town are about to mount an "operation," removing Jewish families to places unknown. Making a decision on the spot, Hannah grabs birth certificates and her medical license, taking her two daughters with her as she uses her connections to arrange an escort across the Hungarian border. A short distance into their trip, Malka becomes ill, and Hannah leaves her with another family under assurances that they will bring her to meet Hannah in Hungary. The plot shifts between Malka and her mother as both of them struggle to reach Hungary. While Hannah waits in Budapest, Malka is shipped back to Poland to fend for herself in the ghetto for the next seven months. Poignant and chilling, Malka adds a new perspective to the archives of the Holocaust. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Penguin Putnam, Philomel, 286p.,
— Michele Winship
This survival novel, sensitively rendered from the German, will appeal to readers attracted to Holocaust themes, a literary writing style, and image-rich prose. Pressler, who translated Anne Frank's diary from Dutch to German, writes a fictional account of the childhood of Malka Mai, an Israeli woman now living near Tel Aviv. In the fall of 1943, seven-year-old Malka, her mother, and her teenaged sister flee a Jewish roundup in occupied Poland, heading for Hungary. When Malka becomes too ill to travel, her mother opts to escort her first-born to safety and leaves Malka with a Jewish Orthodox family that shelters the Mais en route. The family promises to send Malka on when she recovers. Instead, they pocket money left for her support and dump her on the street. Malka is quickly picked up by the authorities, but a Polish policeman, acquainted with Malka's mother, arranges a safe haven for her. Unfortunately, it does not last, and until the spring of 1944, when her mother effects a daring rescue, Malka forages in the city, freezing, frightened, hungry, and sick. The themes of loss, self-sacrifice, and particularly the psychological damage wrought by brutality and fear are powerfully rendered. The story is told from two points of view: Malka's and her guilt-ridden mother's. The teenaged sister clashes frequently with the latter. Young adults might be annoyed that these quarrels are not portrayed from the teen's perspective, but they will find the story compelling nonetheless. Pressler's book will make a worthy addition to any Holocaust collection. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P J M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, definedas grades 7 to 9; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Philomel, M246p,
— Mary Ann Capan
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-In October, 1943, Dr. Hannah Mai and her two daughters make a harrowing escape from German-occupied Poland to Hungary. When seven-year-old Malka becomes ill, Hannah leaves her with a family who promises to send her along as soon as she is well. Fearing German reprisals, however, the family turns her out, and German soldiers take her back across the border. A Polish policeman takes her in, and she forms a strong bond with his wife and son, a child with Down's syndrome. Fearing that she might attract German attention to the boy, the policeman takes her to the ghetto in another small Polish town where another family grudgingly takes her in until, in the face of a German "operation," they send her away. She lives alone in a coal cellar, scrounging for food and remembering to drink liquids as the lady doctor she barely remembers had said was so important. In Hungary, her mother makes desperate efforts to find someone who could help rescue her, finally deciding to leave her older daughter and make the dangerous trip back into Poland herself. The real Malka Mai, now living in Israel, remembers only bits of her six months on her own, but her family's story has been heartbreakingly reimagined by Pressler and smoothly translated by Murdoch. The alternating perspectives of the abandoned child and the mother who made an unbearable choice should appeal to older readers, especially those already attracted to Holocaust survival stories. This is a thought-provoking addition to that body of literature.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A wrenching Holocaust story about flight, fear, and a child left alone. In 1943, Dr. Hannah Mai and her two daughters flee Lawoczne, Poland, trying to get across the Hungarian border. Minna, 17, is able to manage the brutal physical trek, but seven-year-old Malka becomes ill. Her fever and sores prompt Hannah's gut-wrenching decision to leave Malka behind with Jews who promise to care for her. Unexpectedly abandoned, however, Malka spends four months on her own, ending up back in Poland. Occasionally she is cared for, but more often she wanders deserted ghettos alone, hiding in coal chutes and scavenging for scraps of food. Only luck and her blond (though filthy) hair keep her alive. Malka's survival extracts a grim psychological toll. Although concentration camps are never seen, the trauma of this war is profoundly documented in the shattering reunion between Malka and Hannah, who has dared to re-enter Poland in search of her daughter. Heartbreaking historical fiction based loosely on the real Malka Mai's life, this belongs with the best Holocaust literature. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12+)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range:
12 - 16 Years

Meet the Author

Mirjam Pressler is a novelist, translator, and award-winning author of several children's books. She is a highly regarded expert on the life of Anne Frank and her have been translated into many languages. She lives in the Bavarian countryside.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Malka 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Malka was a Jewish girl during the Holocaust. As she tries to ecsape from Poland to Hungary with her mother and sister, she comes down with a high fever and is left in the care of a strange family while her mother and sister continue on the harsh journey. When Malka's host family fears of capture, they set Malka off on her own. She is captured and taken back to Poland. A polish policeman brings her into his house until they too are in fear of capture. Malka goes through a tough time with starvation and harsh winters, as well as trying to survive the German 'operations'. Malka was an excellent book that showed the difficulties endured by people during the Holocaust.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Malka is a seven year old Jewish girl who lives in Poland during World War Two. Because their father is in Israel, Hannah, Malka's mother, becomes very worried when the Nazis invade Poland. Hannah, Malka, and Minna (Malka's sixteen year old sister) start their escape journey to Hungary to dodge the Nazis' grasp. On the way, Malka comes down with a terrible fever that forces Hannah and Minna to leave her behind with a Polish family on the border that they think will take care of Malka. The excitement grows as Minna and Hannah make the treacherous journey across Hungary and as Malka endures new families, starvation, and freezing temperatures. Will the family ever be reunited? This book was very good because it used good imagery that drew you into the story. You could see what the characters were seeing and feel what the characters were feeling. For me, the beginning of the book was a little hard to get into because it was difficult for me to understand the culture of Polish Jews, but the strings will finally get untangled by the middle of the book. 'Malka' is similar to the Anne Frank books and movies because of the Holocaust events. If you enjoy reading about the Holocaust, then this book should definitely be on your list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
otulissa More than 1 year ago
Malka is a Jewish girl in Poland who runs with her mother and sister to escape an operation by the Nazis. On the way little Malka gets sick and has to stay behind with some people until she gets better and her mom can send for her to be safe with them in Hungary. However the people Malka is staying with turn her out onto the streets and from there Malka's little life is turned upside down as she experinces things no child her age ever should have to. I liked the book though it was slow at first. Malka's parts were the most intersting and I started to wish that it didn't switch back and forth. The family didn't seem very close to mem more like strangers in the same house but that may be due to the translation. Over all I liked it and recomend it to anyone who likes period piece literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok so this young seven year old, Malka, her sixteen year old sister, and mother, only doctor in the town, set off beacause of Hitler( my fav. kind of stories have Hitler!!) Malka stays behind because she is sick. Then as soon as she is well she gets put on the streets to be a beggar(:-( Some people have SUCH nerve) Ok Ok, back to the story well Malka NEVER finds mama again, but sister decides to leave mama and go to daddy, who left them a couple years ago. Ok so If you have a better review for me write me at 'cause my review stinks. . . Yes i actually amit stuff like that. So remember: 1. read this book 2.write me a review at 3. In your review make sure to say hi to me, OK? good, actually great thanks for your time!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book full of great facts and exciting events for both the teachers and students.