Yellow Star

Yellow Star

4.5 59
by Jennifer Roy

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From 1939, when Syvia is four and a half years old, to 1945 when she has just turned ten, a Jewish girl and her family struggle to survive in Poland's Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation. See more details below


From 1939, when Syvia is four and a half years old, to 1945 when she has just turned ten, a Jewish girl and her family struggle to survive in Poland's Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In February 1940, four-and-half-year-old Syvia (later Sylvia) Perlmutter, her mother, father and 12-year-old sister, Dora, were among the first of more than 250,000 Jews to be forced into Poland's Lodz Ghetto. When the Russians liberated the ghetto on January 19, 1945, the Perlmutters were among only 800 people left alive; Syvia, "one day shy of ten years old," was one of just 12 children to survive the ordeal. The novel is filled with searing incidents of cruelty and deprivation, love, luck and resilience. But what sets it apart is the lyricism of the narrative, and Syvia's credible childlike voice, maturing with each chapter, as she gains further understanding of the events around her. Roy, who is Syvia's niece, tells her aunt's story in first-person free verse. "February 1940" begins: "I am walking/ into the ghetto./ My sister holds my hand/ so that I don't/ get lost/ or trampled/ by the crowd of people/ wearing yellow stars,/ carrying possessions,/ moving into the ghetto." The rhythms, repetitions and the space around each verse enable readers to take in the experience of an ordinary child caught up in incomprehensible events: "I could be taken away/ on a train,/ .../ and delivered to Germans/ who say that nothing belongs to Jewish people any-/ more./ Not even their own children." Nearly every detail-a pear Syvia bravely plucks from a tree in the ghetto, a rag doll she makes when her family must sell her own beloved doll-underscores the wedded paradox of hope and fear, joy and pain. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
During World War II, 270,000 Jews were herded into the Lodz ghetto in Poland. By war's end only 800 of those people had survived. Among the 800 survivors were twelve children. The true story of one of one of those survivors is told in this free verse tale of a young life in peril. Sylvia Perlmutter was four-years-old when the war started. When the Germans came to Lodz, her family could hardly imagine just how horrible they would be. Soon the Perlmutter family, as well as all the Jews in Lodz and surrounding areas, were crowded into a small walled off portion of the city. There, Sylvia and her family tried to scratch out a life for themselves. Over time virtually everyone they knew was transported out of the ghetto. Those people ended up in concentration camps where almost every single one of them died. The Perlmutters were both resourceful and lucky--they survived. Years later Sylvia shared her story with her niece, Jennifer Roy, and those stories became this moving work. Told in a free verse format, Yellow Star recreates the world of the Perlmutters as seen through the eyes of a little girl. Readers will encounter the tragedies and small pleasures of daily life that existed in those dark days. In the end, Sylvia and her family emigrated to North America and established a life that continues down through the generations of their family. The story of Sylvia and her family is an inspiring one and has been ably told in this poetic book. 2006, Marshal Cavendish, $ 16.95. Ages 10 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck
This wonderfully written first novel is based on the experiences of Syvia Perlmutter, one of only twelve children who survived the Lodz ghetto in Poland during World War II. Roy interviewed Perlmutter, who is actually her aunt, in 2003. Short "poems" and simple language appropriate for Syvia's age make the book a quick but poignant read. Syvia was four years old when her family reported to Lodz along with more than 270,000 others. In 1942, the Nazis began deporting children from Lodz to the Chelmno extermination camp. Parents were told that their children were being taken to safety, but Syvia's father suspected that the children would be killed and sought ways to hide her. The most inconspicuous hiding place was a graveyard where Syvia and her father lay in a shallow grave. When the final train departed Lodz headed for Auschwitz-Birkenau, only 1,200 Jews were left behind to clean the ghetto. Among them were twelve children whom they smuggled into a cellar. The survivors huddled together in 1945 while Russian soldiers bombed Lodz, but they were eventually liberated when the soldiers saw the reflection of their yellow stars of David. After five and a half years in the ghetto, Syvia spent her teen years in Paris and then later moved to Albany, New York. She now volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Social studies teachers and general readers will find the author's note, time line, and brief historical details prefacing each of the five parts of the book invaluable. This book is an essential purchase for school, public, and classroom libraries. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Marshall Cavendish, 256p., Ages 12 to 18.
—KaaVonia Hinton Johnson
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In thoughtful, vividly descriptive, almost poetic prose, Roy retells the true story of her Aunt Syvia's experiences in the Lodz Ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The slightly fictionalized story, re-created from her aunt's taped narrative, is related by Syvia herself as a series of titled vignettes that cover the period from fall, 1939, when she is four years old, until January 1945-each one recounting a particular detail-filled memory in the child's life (a happy-colored yellow star sewn on her favorite orange coat; a hole in the cemetery where she hides overnight with her Papa). The book is divided into five chronological sections-each with a short factual introduction to the period covered. An appended author's note tells what happened to Syvia's family after the war. A time line of World War II, beginning with the German invasion of Poland, is also included. This gripping and very readable narrative, filled with the astute observations of a young child, brings to life the Jewish ghetto experience in a unique and memorable way. This book is a standout in the genre of Holocaust literature.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Syvia-the author's aunt-is too young to know what's happening, but she and her family have been evicted from their home and, with the other neighborhood Jews, have been relocated to the Lodz ghetto at the start of WWII. This novel-in-verse tells how Syvia and her family struggled to survive the war and describes their lives in the ghetto, Syvia being one of only 12 children who walked out at the end of the war. Poetry blends fact and fiction in a powerful format that helps make this incomprehensible event in history comprehensible for children. The fictionalized story is given context by brief nonfiction chapter introductions and is personalized by vivid characters who speak to a young-adult audience. Young readers will find this gripping tale that reads like memoir textured with the sounds, smell and sights of children in captivity. By telling this story so credibly and convincingly through the eyes of a child, the terror of the experience is rendered fresh and palpable for even the most jaded child reader. Classroom teachers might want to partner this book with Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed (2003). (Historical fiction. 10+)

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Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.10(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

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