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Milkweed
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About the Author

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many novels for young readers, including The Warden's Daughter; Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-Yo String, the autobiography of his childhood. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli.

Reviews

Gr 5 Up-In Warsaw in 1939, a boy wanders the streets and survives by stealing what food he can. He knows nothing of his background: Is he a Jew? A Gypsy? Was he ever called something other than Stopthief? Befriended by a band of orphaned Jewish boys, he begins to share their sleeping quarters. He understands very little of what is happening. When the Nazi "Jackboots" march into the town, he greets them happily, admires their shiny boots and tanks, and hopes he can join their ranks someday. He eventually adopts a name, Misha, and a family, that of his friend Janina Milgrom, a girl he meets while stealing food in her comfortable neighborhood. When the Milgroms are forced to move into the newly created ghetto, Misha cheerfully accompanies them. There, he is one of the few small enough to slip through holes in the wall to smuggle in food. By the time trains come to take the ghetto's residents away, Misha realizes what many adults do not-that the passengers won't be going to the resettlement villages at the journey's end. Reading this unusual, fresh view of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of a child who struggles to understand the world around him is like viewing a poignant collage of Misha's impressions. He shares certain qualities with Spinelli's Maniac Magee, especially his intense loyalty to those he cares about and his hopeful, resilient spirit. This historical novel can be appreciated both by readers with previous knowledge of the Holocaust and by those who share Misha's innocence and will discover the horrors of this period in history along with him.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Conveying a sometimes-astonishing na?vet? in light of the brutality seen through the eyes of an orphan boy, Rifkin breathes emotion into Spinelli's novel, which is set in Poland during the Holocaust. In 1939 Warsaw, a runty, ragged street thief who doesn't even know his name or if he ever had a family finds himself taken under the wing of a sharp, slightly older boy named Uri. The younger boy, now called Misha, learns a new, even more wretched way of life under Nazi occupation. He witnesses murder, torture and hatred firsthand, as taken out on the Jews by the cruel soldiers he knows as Jackboots. He further hones his scrappy survival skills, becomes part of a Jewish family in the ghetto and, miraculously, continues to muster hope as the months and years pass. Via Rifkin's cool yet compelling delivery, listeners discover-right along with an always wide-eyed Misha-some of the horrors that many innocent people suffered during this dark era of history. Though some listeners may be puzzled by Misha's detached air and consistent lack of awareness, Rifkin succeeds in making the audio experience an ultimately enlightening one. Ages 10-up. (Sept. 2003) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Both a deceptively simple commentary about the Holocaust and a survival adventure as seen through the eyes of an orphaned eight-year-old. Forced to steal food to survive, the boy, a Jew or a Gypsy, answers to various monikers, such as "Stopthief!" and "Poppynoodle," as he does not know his real name. Before long, he is marched to a Jewish ghetto, where he witnesses atrocities and processes his observations in poetic ways. As his fate, and that of the other ghetto inhabitants, plays out in the novel, the growing sense of evil is all encompassing but leavened by the hope raised by this unwanted child's innocence. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

An extremely powerful book. Readers will be gripped by this story of a young orphan in Warsaw. -- Boston Herald

Jerry Spinelli has fashioned a novel of beauty out of the ugliness of the Holocaust. It is a superb book, one of the best you will read. -- BookPage

Stunning. -- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Spinelli creates a masterful achievement, a war story to be put alongside J. G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun and a literary accompaniement to Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful. -- VOYA An unforgettable novel.--Library Media Connection, Starred Part survival adventure, part Holocaust history, [this] novel tells the story through the eyes of a Polish orphan on the run from the Nazis.--Booklist, Starred review This is a superb addition to the canon of young adult literature.--Jewish Book World Unforgettable. . . a powerful story about one small boy's courage during a horrifying period of history. A heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story. -- The Midwest Book Review

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