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The Lily Cupboard Hardcover – January, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Oppenheim ( Waiting for Noah ) tackles the delicate topic of the Holocaust, chronicling the experiences of two families--one Jewish, one not--in war-torn Holland. As the German occupation intensifies, Miriam's parents fear for their daughter's safety and send her to live with a non-Jewish family. In her new home a secret crawl space behind a wall panel becomes the girl's refuge should the soldiers approach. Although the text sometimes tenderly conveys Miriam's anxiety about separation and adjustment, this story ultimately does not ring true. The earnest, somewhat adult tone and occasionally artificial dialogue may limit the book's appeal. Children will have difficulty comprehending the scope of this ugly period in which "many died a hideous death" and when "there were many heroes." However, Miriam's ordeal is sure to provoke further discussion and may serve to introduce the themes of war and racism. Himler's cozy Dutch farmhouse and verdant countryside provide a gentle, comforting backdrop for the somber drama and serve as a reminder that brutality can touch idyllic settings and innocent people. Ages 6-8.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-- In first-person present-tense narration, a young Dutch girl tells how her parents send her to the country to hide from the Nazis. Her homesickness and fear lessen when the farmer's son gives her a rabbit of her own. When soldiers come, her concern for her pet almost brings discovery, but the farmer successfully hides both child and animal. This moving story is beautifully illustrated with watercolor and gouache paintings in which warm earth tones depict the Dutch family and their home. While the text is simply worded and childlike, the picture-book format and frightening subject matter seem somewhat at odds. Children without prior background on the Holocaust may find the threat from the unseen soldiers hard to understand, despite the opening and closing statements that act as a conceptual prologue and epilogue. Used with similarly formatted World War II stories such as Amy Hest's The Ring and the Window Seat (Scholastic, 1990) or Roberto Innocenti's Rose Blanche (Creative Ed., 1986) in a classroom setting or by parents, this could provide a memorable introduction to the suffering and bravery of individuals during the war. --Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books; 1st edition (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060246693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060246693
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,726,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This story provides a gentle fictional account of a child named Miriam forced to hide in the Dutch countryside during the Holocaust.

The book opens on May 10, 1940, when Holland was invaded by Germany, noting that for the next five years, Jewish citizens of Holland were sent to concentration camps where many died hideous deaths. But that is this story's only mention of what became of the vast majority of Europe's Jews during World War II.

The next page introduces Miriam and her parents, who explained to her that she must hide on a farm until the danger passed. Miriam packed one suitcase including her favorite books. In the countryside filled with tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, Miriam met the boy named Nello with whose family she would live for the next five years. Miriam's parents explained that she would be safe with them because they were not Jewish.

Once during her years with the family, Miriam was forced to hide in a cupboard, which had been pre-determined for those times when German soldiers might come. Outside the door, Nello's parents answered the harsh and mean soldiers in soft, gentle voices.

When the story ends, it's not clear whether Miriam would ever see her parents again. But that's the point of this tale, meant to introduce children to the Holocaust, without frightening them out of their wits.

The key idea here is that some Europeans were good and some Jewish children were safe.

--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jane James on March 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This story is told rather ambiguously... the facts of the girl going to the country to stay with a family, and where she hides when the soldiers come, is simply told. Why she has to go to the country and why she has to hide, are more complex issues. This story does not attempt to explain all the details and reasons why. Because of this, it is appropriate in the opening of dialogue about WWII and the Holocaust with children of all ages.
I could read this story to my 4 year old, or I could have my 9 year old read it. It's not the complete story - but not all children can fully understand or are ready for the complete story.
I felt that the information was handled with dignity, and it wasn't told in a maudlin manner at all. As a teacher and mother, I can recommend this book to any child who is ready to learn a little about this tragic time in our history, even the most sensitive students.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
28- page picture book. A little Jewish girl is taken to thecountry and cared for by a gentile family. The father fashions ahiding place for her behind a lily-painted cupboard . She must hid here when the soldiers come to search for her. A fictional account of the brave Dutch people who risked their lives to save the Jews in Holland. A moving story with beautiful illustrations. Excellent for young children.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carrie on May 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorites. The book is about a young Jewish girl living in Holland. She is sent to live with a Christian family so she is safe from the German soldiers who invaded the country. The son of the family buys the girl a rabbit which she becomes dearly attached to and will let no harm come to it; just as her parents would let no harm come to her. The story is sad yet heart warming. The girl inspires hope and love in such despairing times.
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