From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Erich Levi lives in a small German town at the early stages of the Nazi regime. A well-respected business family, the Levis have always had friends and good relations in their community. Soon after the government's takeover, they begin to experience subtle and then obvious forms of harassment and prejudice both in school and in their everyday dealings with neighbors. Life becomes increasingly more dangerous for Erich, his brother Max, and their cousin Erwin. While life is indeed difficult, the day-by-day portrayal of each additional hardship during the years 1933-1938 becomes a bit tedious. Forced but fortunate to escape to America, the Levis' wartime experience, while cruel and unjust, provides a view into the early days of a Jewish family's struggle to maintain their patriotism and loyalty despite the obvious pressures of religious discrimination and unjustified brutality. This fictionalized window into what are becoming myriad choices in Holocaust literature for young people is an additional purchase.–Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
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What was it like to be one of only three Jewish kids in a small German town when Hitler came to power? Based on the true story of Erich Levi, age 12 at the time, this novel, first published in Germany, has been translated with simple immediacy. For Erich, "being a Jew was no big deal" until changes begin in his daily life. A teacher leads bullying and insults; classroom exercises label Jews "bloodsuckers"; the Hitler Youth run things. One Gentile friend stays loyal, but only in secret, and Erich's father's business fails. Finally, the family heeds the warnings and leaves for the U.S. The everyday detail may overwhelm many readers, but even given the wealth of Holocaust fiction on shelves today, little has been written about the early years of the Nazis. The truth of the child's viewpoint brings the terror home. Suggest Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Hitler Youth
(2005) and Hans B. Richter's Friedrich
(1987) to readers wanting other books about the time. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved