Based on real life stories from the author’s family, this is a story of survival during the years of the Holocaust. A little girl tells the story of her family in Italy during World War II. The book shows the transition from seeing soldiers around to the growing restrictions and imprisonment of Jewish families. The story starts in Rome where the family has been living, but then their father is sent away into the mountains with the other Jewish men. The family would travel into the mountains to see her father on the weekends. Even this did not last long, because soon there was talk of concentration camps coming, so her father ran away to hide. The Nazis then tried to take her mother, but through a series of skillful tricks, she was able to prevent being sent to a concentration camp. This book takes a very challenging time in history and makes it accessible and understandable for children.
Russo successfully uses the lens of a small girl to explain the situations during World War II for Jewish people. Focusing on the breaking apart of families rather than the atrocities of the Nazis, makes this book powerful on a different level. The horrors of the Holocaust are evident in the story, but do not take center stage. It is very skillfully written and conceived.
Russo’s art has a gentle simplicity to it. The paintings have a flatness that works well and the images are clearly set in the past. The story is compelling and fascinating, yet is definitely suitable for younger readers.
This picture book speaks to the horrors of World War II in a way that children can understand. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.