27 April 2010

Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson is the first book I read for the Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by The Black Sheep Dances. If you would like to participate, visit her blog. I would recommend this book as a wonderful place to start your exploration of Scandinavian literature and, while they cannot count for the challenge because I had read them earlier, here are two other books that I really loved that meet the criteria: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Astrid and Veronika. I enjoyed all three books and am anxious to find my next Scandinavian book to read. If you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment.

Now on to my review of Out Stealing Horses. When I was a teen, I loved Henry David Thoreau's Walden and this book reminded me of how Walden made me think and feel about nature. Even if the story told by Petterson had not been engaging, I would have read on to try to capture that feeling of being one with nature.

The novel begins with Trond Sander, our near seventy year old narrator, working on a cabin in the woods in Norway. He is retired and his wife has died so he chose to leave his life behind and move to a cabin where his nearest neighbor, Lars, brings back memories of his youth with his father. Together Trond and his father visited this same area in the 1940s where they worked with locals to fell trees and float them to a sawmill. The story bounces back and forth between these times and over the course of the novel, the reader is drawn into both.

In the present time, Trond hoped to escape his own life to dwell in peace in the woods and depending only on himself. In the past, the reader learns with Trond that his father is part of a resistance movement smuggling Jews from Norway to Sweden. There are other secrets which I will not share - you will need to read the book to learn them.

In the end, Trond finds forgiveness within himself and welcomes the companionship of his daughter but continues to live in solitude, no longer feeling such pangs of lonliness. I loved every minute of this book.

TITLE: Out Stealing Horses
AUTHOR: Per Petterson
COPYRIGHT: 2005 (English translation)
PAGES: 238
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I loved this book mostly because it reminded me that solitude is not lonely, rather it can be silence for the soul.
AWARDS: British Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2006), International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2007)

23 April 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Please visit Crazy for Books to add your link! It is a wonderful way to find new book blogs to read. I hope that you will also leave a link for me so I can come visit you if I have missed your link on the original post. Happy Friday to all! Here are the basic instructions:

In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all book bloggers and readers a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!! Back to the top to visit Crazy for Books!

21 April 2010

Island of the Blue Dolphins

I participate in a group blog ~ The Newbery Project ~ where we all read Newbery Award books with the hope of reading all of them one day! If you are a teacher or a mother, you might enjoy reading about these wonderful and historical books.
I remember when my children read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. It was many years ago but I still remember that my daughter cried while my oldest son tried not to cry. So I remember it as a sad book because a dog dies.

It is much more than that. This book was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1961. I was only eight years old and I wonder why (or if) I did not read the book. This was published in a time of women's liberation in the United States. I don't know that I would say that liberation is what this book is about, but certainly Karana moved outside female cultural roles as she survived alone on an island off the coast of California.

The book is based on the life of a real woman who lived alone on the island of San Nicolas from 1835 to 1853. She was named Juana Maria by a priest who was with her when she died only seven weeks after she was rescued by George Nidever. She is buried at the Santa Barbara Mission in California. To learn more, click HERE.

In Island of the Blue Dolphins, our heroine Karana stays behind on her island after the Aleuts killed many of the men of her tribe and the others had left on a large ship. She stayed because she could not find her brother on the ship. After her brother's traumatic death, Karana lives alone on the island. O'Dell uses imagery to help the reader visualize how Karana takes care of herself and the island. A strong girl, Karana does what she must do to survive. In the end, she has experienced joy and sorrow on the island. I liked the story and feel the students would as well.

TITLE: Island of the Blue Dolphins
AUTHOR: Scott O'Dell
PAGES: 184
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I would recommend this to Middle School children who are naturalists (no matter what your definition) or for girls who need to learn that they can do anything they wish to do.

20 April 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from the book Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (translated from the Dutch by Anne Born):

Outside, the blue hour has arrived. Everything draws closer; the shed, the edge of the wood, the lake beyond the trees, it is as if the tinted air binds the world together and there is nothing disconnected out there. p. 91

This is a beautiful book by Norwegian author Per Petterson (in his former life, he was a librarian!). And stealing horses is not what we think here in the US of A - rather it means to go ride some "borrowed" horses and then, of course, take them back to their home. While many may find this a melancholy book, I find it has a sweet sadness to it that is comforting. I hope to finish the book tonight, so look for a review soon. BTW, thanks to The Black Sheep who is hosting a Scandinavian Reading Challenge - otherwise I would never have found this book. I look forward to reading others by this author. If you would like to participate in the challenge, just visit her blog and sign up. It is only six books by the end of the year and if they are all as good as this one - it will be a snap!

18 April 2010

Sunday Sidelines

Good morning and happy spring Sunday to all. This weekend has been about flowers at our house. It all started because a friend gave us a very small moon flower. We nurtured it in the house forever - not because we had to - because we were lazy, err slow? Anyway, we wanted to see these large white blooms that we heard about - they only bloom at night, so we decided it was time to send this small plant to the real world. And of course this became a production. Here are some photos - hard to believe these five small pots of flowers took us all morning!

The moon flower is the leafy plant in the back of the square planter. We had to put a mini-arbor type thing in the back of the planter because moon plants like to climb. My favorite at this point is the red and white flower in the flower flowerpot. It is really beautiful to see. Maybe next weekend we will be able to do more.

I hope that you will take the time to read some book reviews of Holocaust Resources for children:
Angel Girl - A controversial story

A Family Secret - A graphic novel

And maybe come by and tell me about your week!

16 April 2010

Friday and Book Blog Hop

Crazy for Books hosts a regular Blog Hop and this week it is a Book Blog Hop!!! She provides a Mr. Linky place for everyone to sign in and over the week participants try to visit as many blogs as possible. Perfect way to find new blogs to read...for that matter, a perfect way to find new books to add to our wish lists! Be sure to check it out! And if you are visiting here for the first time, Welcome!

14 April 2010

An Unfinished Score

Let me begin this review with thanks to Unbridled Books for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book. An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell is the first thing I have ever read that made me wish I had paid closer attention in freshman Music Class! Even so my lack of musical memory did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of this lyrically written and multi-layered novel.

The novel begins as viola player, Suzanne, learns that her lover, music conductor Alex, has died. The drama begins early as Suzanne hears this news over the radio while preparing dinner for her husband Ben and her best friend Petra. Although the adults in her life seem not to notice immediately that something is wrong with her, Petra's daughter Adele who was deaf from birth and loves Suzanne as she loves her mother is more attuned to the nuances of unspoken emotion. Except for Adele, music is what binds this group of people who share a home. As she moves through her grief, Suzanne remembers other losses which led her to Alex and away from her husband and friend.

For Suzanne, the loss of her lover Alex is at the core of who she will be. Even more so when Alex's widow blackmails her to complete a score Alex had begun before his death. The reader reminisces with Suzanne as she remembers her affair with Alex. We also struggle with her as she attempts to complete a score which makes little sense to her, causing her to question what she knew about her lover.
Had I not cared about the characters in the book, I would still have continued reading to experience the emotion of music that is expressed on nearly every page. Not capable of playing an instrument myself, I was mesmerized by the feelings of the composer, player, and listener.
Ultimately to me this is a novel of opposites and how they come together - the past and the future, the composer and the performer, the meaning and the interpretation. The reader is asked to consider these things as the novel comes to a startling conclusion. If I have time this summer, I plan to read the book again with my computer and headphones so I can stop and lister to each composition which is lovingly mentioned by Suzanne, Alex, Ben, Petra, and a wonderful group of supporting characters!

TITLE: An Unfinished Score
AUTHOR: Elise Blackwell
COPYRIGHT: 2009, April 2010
PAGES: 272
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: Music lovers in particular will enjoy this novel, but even without such knowledge it is an enjoyable and quick read

13 April 2010

Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory

In a clear and concise manner, Brad Hooper shares his expertise in reviewing books, both pre and post publication, in his 2010 American Library Association publication, Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory. In fact, after reading and studying (yes, I did take notes) his book, I should not have a bit of trouble writing this review.
Hooper begins his instruction by carefully explaining to the reader the difference between reviewing and criticism. Unless we are professional scholars, chances are we will not be writing criticism, rather, we will be providing "an assessment of something new on the market" which is "broader, more encompassing and less specific." (pp. 8-9) Hooper follows this with the two questions any book review should answer: what is the book about? and how good is the book? And of course, the answer to the second question is entirely subjective and should be dealt with in a generous, but honest, manner. (p. 23, 59)
Hooper reminds us of the five elements of fiction and hopes that non-fiction will be clearly about something (if we cannot figure it out, we should perhaps not write the review). To help the reader understand the techniques for writing reviews, Hooper provides multiple examples which are illuminating. Perhaps my favorite tip (and something I have wondered about) is that you should review narrative non-fiction in the past tense because it did happen. Fiction, on the other hand, never really happened and should be reviewed in the present tense. (p. 64)
Anyone who reads and reviews books should study Hooper's book. As the current Adult Books Editor for Booklist, Hooper is certainly well-versed in reviewing and his suggestions for good book reviewing is invaluable.

TITLE: Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory
AUTHOR: Brad Hooper
TYPE: non-fiction
RECOMMEND: I recommend this book to everyone who writes reviews to promote books, whether these reviews are personal or for the library community.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

And now she hopes that her loss - her mother, her child, her lover - protects her from more loss, the way she hopes Adele's deafness protects her from premature illness. Dues already paid. (p. 95)

This quote is from the ARC An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell. If this sounds intriguing, stop by tomorrow for my review.

12 April 2010

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Habit :: old

  2. Relaunch :: system

  3. Mondays :: blah

  4. Bootstrap :: pull yourself up

  5. Funk :: Mondays

  6. Appreciate :: you

  7. Yay! :: Hooray

  8. Life :: is sweet

  9. Sheets :: need washing

  10. Date night :: What?

11 April 2010

Sunday Sidelines

Welcome to another Sunday Sidelines. It has been a beautiful week in Northwest Florida with spring weather a warm welcome after an unusually cold winter. I managed to take the day off on Friday and my husband, my daughter and I took our two grandsons to Pensacola Beach. It was still a bit too cold to get in the water, although there were some brave souls who seemed to be having fun splashing about in the waves. Instead we walked to the end of the long fishing pier on the Gulf Side and wandered a bit on the Sound Side.

The water was beautiful and fairly calm for the Gulf Side. We did watch four or five people surfing - long boards, because the waves were too small for a short board.

Today we started with yard work...twelve bags full of leaves and still only half done. The leaves are falling faster than we can rake and sweep them up! We had to have the philosopical argument with our daughter who insists putting the leaves in bags is an environmental travesty. Still I suspect our neighbors appreciate our leaves being contained, plus it was faster.

Then this afternoon we all three went to a production of Grease at the University of West Florida. It was a student production and overall quite cute. The music was good and some of the singers were great!

This last week, I finished a few books and should have reviews posted early in the week:

An Unfinished Score - Elise Blackwell

She's So Dead to Us - Kieran Scott

Have a wonderful week!!

09 April 2010

Book Blogger Hop

If you are coming by from the Blog Hop, I hope you will visit often. This is my favorite meme of the week - I guess next to my own Sunday Sidelines which allows us the freedom to talk about anything we want - not just about books. Of course, books are what bring us to the computer. I want to share what I am reading and I want to know what you are reading. And how you like said book.

I also have a specialized book blog called Holocaust Resources where I review K-12 Holocaust resources. I hope that one day educators will use my blog to search for books they plan to use in the classroom with their students. I feel very strongly that this is increasingly important as Holocaust survivors are becoming older and fewer. Please stop by and perhaps you will learn some small something that you did not know about the Holocaust. I always do!

Again, thanks for stopping by!

08 April 2010

A Novel Challenge: Scandinavian Reading Challenge

A Novel Challenge: Scandinavian Reading Challenge

Since I have already read some of the authors, I think this will be a very easy challenge!

Top 101

Thanks to Rebecca at Just One More Page for making me aware of this Top 101 Booklover's List published yearly by Dymock's. I have highlighted the ones that I am sure I have read. There are a few others that I have read parts of or one of three in a series which I did not highlight. All in all, not a bad list!

1 The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
2 The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
3 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
4 The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
6 The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
7 To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
8 The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
9 My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
10 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
11 The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
12 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
13 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
14 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
15 Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
16 Magician by Raymond E. Feist
17 Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
18 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
19 Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
20 The Host by Stephenie Meyer
21 Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
22 Atonement by Ian McEwan
23 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
24 Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
25 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
26 Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
27 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
28 The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
29 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
30 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
31 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
32 Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
33 Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
34 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
35 The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini
36 The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
37 Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
38 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
39 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
40 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
41 Ice Station by Matthew Reilly
42 The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
43 Persuasion by Jane Austen
44 Tully by Paullina Simons
45 Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly
46 Breath by Tim Winton
47 The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
48 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
49 A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
50 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
51 Emma by Jane Austen
52 The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
53 The Bible
54 Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly
55 A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
56 We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
57 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
58 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
59 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
60 The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
61 People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
62 The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
63 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
64 Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
65 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
66 The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris
67 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
68 Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly
69 On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
70 The Princess Bride by William Goldman
71 The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
72 Wicked by Gregory Maguire
73 Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
74 Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
75 Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
76 Dewey by Vicki Myron
77 Dirt Music by Tim Winton
78 Marley and Me by John Grogan
79 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
80 Dune by Frank Herbert
81 The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
82 The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
83 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
84 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
85 The Road by Cormac McCarthy
86 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
87 The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
88 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
89 Possession by AS Byatt
90 Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta
91 No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
92 Graceling by Kristin Cashore
93 The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
94 The Secret History by Donna Tartt
95 Silent Country by Di Morrissey
96 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
97 Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
98 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
99 Still Alice by Lisa Genova
100 The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
101 Gallipoli by Les Carlyon

Which ones have you read? Leave a link so I can visit your list. Also check back later today to see my review of Hidden Child, another Holocaust book for children - this time it will only be posted on my blog dedicated to these resources...Holocaust Resources.

06 April 2010

Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival

Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival by Clara Kramer is an amazing story of survival. In addition to surviving with 17 other people in the dug-out basement of a house for 18 months, fifteen year old Clara (at the insistence of her mother) kept a written record of their day to day lives, the fears and sorrows, and the joys. The details of living under such stress are the moments which make this such a compelling story.

As if living under a house in a crawl space dug out with your own hands is not enough, it is incredible who lived above them in the house. Initially the house was inhabited by Mr. and Mrs. Beck who were both German. Before the war, Julia Beck has served as a maid for Clara's family and she convinced her husband, who was known to be anti-Semetic, to allow the families to hide under their house. In addition, the house was inhabited by Nazi trainmen and Nazi soldiers. Many times, the Jewish families lives were saved by only seconds of time - time to hide, time to eat, time to cry. After the war Clara and her family returned to their own home which became a gathering place for the mere fifty surviving Jews of the 5,000 who had lived in Zolkiew Poland before the war. I was stunned, but not terribly surprised, by Clara's statement after her return to life:

From the stories the survivors told us, I realized we had it better than most. (p. 310)

Still, for me, the most poignant paragraph in the book was written in Clara's diary near the end of the war, with the enemy in the rooms above them and the Becks under suspicion:

Tuesday, 9 May 1944. You could think that a person who looks into the eyes of death as many times as we do would get used to it. But it's the opposite with us. The more we are in danger of dying, the more we are frightened. One wants to live no matter what and no matter how. Every day we look death in the eyes and every day has its own history. If at least we had a verdict, a time, how long we will suffer. We are sitting here and we don't even know if it's for nothing. (p. 262)

To continue on day after day, not knowing when it would end - or how it would end had to have been such an emotional strain and yet these 18 people survived. Ultimately Julia and Valentine Beck were honored at Yad Vashem in Israel. The Beck's daughter, Ala, who lived in the house with the eighteen survivors for most of the war came to the service and planted a tree in the Garden of the Righteous. And Clara - she tries still to live her life worthy of the Becks and her sister Mania who died trying to escape the basement during a fire. She considers her work on Holocaust education a large part of her obligation to these people she loved so much.

Harper Collins provides the reader with the following message from the author (this is also in the book):
To the Readers of Clara's War
Writing this book was like walking out of my kitchen door in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and straight into my home in Zolkiew. Although the events in this book happened over 60 years ago, they have never left me. As with many survivors, I relive them in the present. I am 81 years old, and I am one of the lucky ones. Ever since the day I left the bunker, I have done my best to live a worthy life. I have dedicated myself to the teaching of the Holocaust. The privilege of surviving comes with the responsibility of sharing the story of those who did not. Everything in this book is as I lived and remember it, although I have taken the liberty of reconstructing dialogue to the best of my recollection. I have also used the spelling and names most familiar to me. During the 18 months I spent in the bunker, I kept a diary which today is in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. There was little light and less paper and only one nub of a pencil to write with. I documented as much as I could in my diary, but although I often spoke about my life, the idea of writing about it never occurred to me. Thank you (to my cowriter) for encouraging me and for taking this journey with me back to Zolkiew. And thank you for capturing my life so beautifully on paper. I am so grateful that my great-great-grandchildren will be able to meet those of us who came before.

From my memory to theirs, and to yours—

Clara Kramer
{accessed at http://www.harpercollins.com/author/microsite/news.aspx?authorid=35107&newsid=5447#5447}

And here is a YouTube video made by the author.

TITLE: Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
AUTHOR: Clara Kramer
CO-AUTHOR: Stephen Glantz
PAGES: 339
TYPE: non-fiction
RECOMMEND: A moving story of heroism and determination.
AWARDS: 2010 Sophy Brody Honor Book

04 April 2010

Sunday Sidelines

Welcome to my Sunday Sidelines. This is just a mish-mash of what I am thinking about this week. I hope that you will leave a comment telling me what you are thinking!

Here is something fun I do every Sunday. It is Unconscious Mutterings hosted by Luna Nina. She supplies the words, you supply the associations. And check out what others are associating!

  1. Philanthropy :: buy a cow

  2. Said :: well

  3. Blanks :: fill in the

  4. Tapas :: Spanish

  5. Orgasm :: Ummmm

  6. Movement :: slight

  7. Detention :: in trouble

  8. Restaurant :: Chili's

  9. Weird :: and strange

  10. Sniffle :: snort

WOW - now what I am really excited about. I am excited about BASKETBALL!! In particular, I am excited about Butler. And that is saying something for me, since my daughter reminded me last night that she had a Duke hat and a Duke t-shirt growing up because I was undeniably a Duke fan. And I won't be crushed if they win the championship, but I am really pulling for Butler. As for the women - well who can win other than UConn. But know I will be watching tonight.

While I am not watching basketball this weekend, I have been sitting at my desk at home grading student projects. Sugar Pie doesn't like to hang without me, so I bought a baby sling and she happily snuggles up in it while I am at the computer. The other three chihuahuas are too big for it and a bit jealous, but that it the perk of being the smallest. She has food in her little pouch and is quite content to sit there as long as I do. Such a little love.

Well, wishing you all a blessed day.


02 April 2010

The Cat with the Yellow Star

Fate is an interesting thing. I ordered this book from our Interlibrary Loan department without really knowing the story. Of course, I knew it was a Holocaust book for children, but I was wonderfully surprised when I realized that this book was written by one of the Girls of Room 28. (I reviewed this book a short time back.) Room 28 was a room at the Children's Home at Terezin, a holding camp or ghetto in Czechoslovakia. A key element in both books is the children's opera Brundibar. I also reviewed a children's book retelling the opera Brundibar. But back to fate, when I got the book, I flipped through the 40 pages and found a page of photographs - the page looked almost like a yearbook page with fourteen photos of young girls - Handa, Eva, Hanka, Marianne, Lenka, Anna, Helga...I knew them all! It was like seeing photos of friends from middle school. I was elated to know these women through these stories. And very excited to read another book about their blessed experience during the Holocaust.

In some ways, Cat with the Yellow Star, written by Susan Goldman Rubin with Ela Weissberger, is a more intimate look at the experiences of the girls of Room 28. Maybe it feels that way because the words are crafted for a younger audience and therefore feel like a story shared by only a few. I am so thankful that Ela shared her story and photographs with Susan. It was interesting to learn that the women who were caretakers for the girls of Room 28 made sure the children learned their manners and kept clean in an easily overwhelming environment.

Ela starred as the cat in the children's opera Brundibar. She talks, as did the previous author, about the importance of these artistic endeavors for the children of Terezin. I knew that the Nazis had promoted Terezin as a model camp and invited the International Red Cross to view how well the Jewish people were taken care of. I did not know that the children performed their opera for the Red Cross in June 1944. Apparently the Red Cross believed what they saw in 1944. They learned the truth about Terezin when the camp was turned over to them by the Nazis on May 3, 1945. This is when Eva was liberated.

Still this was not the end of Brundibar. Fifteen of the children of Room 28 survived the war and since 1986 they have joined one another once a year to enjoy talking about their lives. Ela continues to hear her beloved opera - performed by children all over the world. After one such performance on December 7, 2003 at the Simon Wiesenthal Center - Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Ela spoke to the audience:

Sixty years ago we performed this opera at Terezin. Only a few of us survived. I lost many of my friends. But when we were performing Brundibar, we forgot where we were, we forgot all our troubles. Music was part of our resistance against the Nazis. Music, art, good teachers, and friends meant survival.
(p. 35)

Holiday House provides a wonderful Educator's Guide for this title.

TITLE: The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin
AUTHOR: Susan Goldman Rubin with Ela Weissberger
TYPE: Holocaust narrative, non-fiction
RECOMMEND: I learned a lot from this small book and the images included are very interesting. It certainly could be used in conjunction with Brundibar. I really liked this book.