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Halinka Hardcover – October 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st American ed edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805058613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805058611
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,065,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the disturbing-sounding setting?a residence for girls in Germany shortly after the end of WWII?this German novel is full of warmth and hope. Halinka, 12, prefers not to think about her abusive mother, and she would rather endure the other girls' taunts about her supposed Gypsy blood than tell them she is Jewish. Pressler doesn't whitewash Halinka's troubled past, but she refuses to emphasize it. She concentrates on the passage of a single week, showing the routine of the home and the interaction of the girls, all of them from damaged families. Halinka determines to win a contest to raise the most funds for a local charity (her ruses demonstrate a beyond-her-years resourcefulness); she trades punches with the class bully; she sneaks off to her private sanctuary, the luggage storeroom, in the middle of the night; she fights off her defenses to befriend a younger girl. What is remarkable is Halinka's complexity: she doesn't trust people but essentially likes them; she breaks rules and even steals yet she is basically good; she has seen too much and yet her voice is childlike. The optimistic note at the conclusion rises sturdily from Pressler's careful foundation, giving readers not a feel-good ending but something solid to feel good about. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Halinka is a 12-year-old Polish girl who lives in a home for girls in post-World War II Germany. Almost every night, she sneaks out of her shared room to go to her secret hiding place in a storage room. There she keeps a notebook of aphorisms such as "When the thoughts are dark, there can be no light in the heart." Through vague references, readers learn that she was abused by her mother and that her Aunt Lou was denied custody because she worked the night shift. So Halinka is in her second foster home until her aunt can get married and make a home for her. When Halinka wins a fund-raising contest, her prize is a day trip to a castle and park and dinner in a restaurant. The outing is a life-changing experience and brings out the author's best writing. After Halinka becomes enchanted with a garden statue, she returns to the home a more peaceful person, aware of the beauty that exists in the world. She also shows some growth in the novel through her friendship with another youngster in the home. Unfortunately, the first-person narration moves slowly and events can only be seen from Halinka's perspective. It is dubious that she is percipient enough to analyze the other characters in the way that she does, and sometimes it seems as though the author is talking. Also, neither a sense of place nor time is clearly established, and the girl's past is never made clear, making it difficult to relate to her. While the story has merit, it is overwhelmed by its stylistic problems.
Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book with my 13 year old daughter (adopted at age 11 from Russia.) Halinka's story so closely paralleled my daughter's that there were times she thought I was reading from a book of her own life. It sparked meaningful discussions and was an avenue for my daughter to share her feelings and experiences from her past. I would highly reccomend this book to children adopted at older ages from Eastern Europe. I also suggest that parents read this along with their children. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lorry on March 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Halinka is a unique book about a girl who lives in a foster home in post WWII Germany. The twelve year old protagonist has a sensitive spirit, despite the many protective walls that have helped her survive a difficult childhood. We see how this cleaver girl manages to take care of her own needs, find hope where looks for it, and takes some huge risks to get what she wants. Most importantly, we see in detail the peeling away of Halinka's defenses, and the opening up of her heart. This is a fasinating book. The character development is subtle and very real. The inner-life of Halinka is vivid with emotion and the details of a pre-adolecent faced with many personal challenges. I recommend this book to all thoughtful and sensitive readers over age 12.
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Format: Hardcover
A sad, sweet tale of a lonely girl (I don't remember them mentioning her age, but I'd guess eleven or so) in an orphanage. Although the story is set in Germany in the early 1950s, it could come from just about any time or place.

Halinka's attempts to stay strong and find some joy in her Spartan existence ring true. At first she stays aloof from everyone, keeping her thoughts and inside her head and sharing them only with her secret book and a beloved aunt whom she occasionally visits. Eventually, however, Halinka lets her guard down and confides in a few select people at the children's home.

I thought the characterization in particular was very well-done. With the novel being set in an institution, all the orphan girls might start to blur together, but Pressler was able to make each child, and each staff member, distinctive. Although the movement in the story is largely internal, the fundraising contest added some suspense. I would highly recommend this for 9-to-12 girls.

A few notes: contrary to some of the descriptions of this book, the orphanage is NOT a home for "troubled" girls. I also don't think Halinka is Jewish, though the book wasn't entirely clear on that point. In any case it didn't matter whether or not she was.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By monkey123 on September 21, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book Halinka by Mirjam Pressler is a good book. The main character is sixth-grader Halinka, who lives in a home for girls in Germany. She hates it there, and she has no friends because she thinks she doesn't need any. She wants to go live with her Aunt Lou, but she can't because Aunt Lou isn't married. Then she starts collecting money for the Mothers' Convalescent League. The person who collects the most money wins a prize. Halinka wants the prize to be a book, because she loves reading, especially Huckleberry Finn, which she reads over and over. Then, something amazing happens - Halinka becomes friends with a small girl named Renata, nicknamed Rena. She realizes that is good for a person to have a friend. What will happen to Halinka? To find out, read this book.
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