- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 500L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (May 3, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688162835
- ISBN-13: 978-0688162832
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,210,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Key Is Lost Hardcover – May 3, 2000
From Publishers Weekly
As in her previous works (Hide and Seek; Dancing on the Bridge of Avignon), Vos bases this revelatory series of vignettes on her experiences as a Jewish child in Holland during WWII. This time her protagonist, 12-year-old Eva, goes into hiding with her whole family, but no place is truly safe. Their first refuge is shared with another family; the protectors worry that having so many people poses too great a risk, and it is Eva's family that must leave. Their next hosts are a man who tells anti-Semitic jokes (he takes in Jews only because he hates the Germans), and his wife, who is having an affair. The wife's lover, hoping to have the husband arrested, plans to inform the Germans about the Jews in the house, and Eva's family flees in the nick of time. Soon Eva and her younger sister are separated from their parents and forced to cope with acutely frightening circumstances. The precariousness of the hiding places, the dangers of moving from one to another and the girls' unnatural existence within them are thrown into sharp relief as Vos distills each scene to its most telling moments. She has a particular talent for demonstrating the protective powers of the fantasies the girls slip into and for re-creating their private world. As usual the author eschews description and exposition, instead relaying the action through her characters' observations and exchanges. Ultimately hopeful, this book brings home the sorrows and terrors of the hidden children. Ages 8-12. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-This simply told, understated story is based on the author's own experiences during World War II. The novel follows 12-year-old Eva and 9-year-old Lisa Zilverstijn, two Jewish-Dutch sisters who must separate from their parents, as they move from one hiding place to another, staying one step ahead of the Nazis. Much of the story deals with how the girls spend their time in hiding: knitting socks for one of their host families, taking imaginary "walks" through their old neighborhood, playing with the lice they find in their hair, and putting on a puppet show. Permeating the story is their underlying fear of getting caught, their worry about their parents, and their growing reluctance to form attachments to their protectors. Except for occasional references to people they knew who were captured or died, there isn't the all-pervasive Nazi presence that characterizes other memoirs and novels about this era. The novel ends on an upbeat note: the girls are reunited with their parents after the war. Vos effectively introduces the Holocaust through the experiences and childlike voices of the sisters. What the story lacks in sustained action and suspense, it makes up for in its clearly etched and believably developed characters.
Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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When twelve year old Eva Zilverstijn and her nine year old sister Lisa go into hiding, they are given the fake Huguenot names Marie-Louise and Marie-Jeanne Dutour. Their parents are also given fake names. Like the Hartogs in 'Hide and Seek,' the Zilverstijn family are also at first all together in hiding, even with a bunch of friends and relatives, till it becomes too dangerous to all be hiding together. The Zilverstijns move on to another hiding place, but before long that too becomes dangerous and the parents must hide separately from Eva and Lisa. Before they leave one another, their mother gives them each identical poems, about her hopes and dreams for them and for what they'll do after liberation. Each poem is addressed to their fake French names. We learn at the end of the book that those were the actual poems that Ida Vos and her little sister were given by their own mother before they had to separate, and she included the poem in the book as a way of paying tribute to her. She says she and her sister would always reread their poems before moving to a different hiding place, and it gave them courage and hope.
At first the girls stay with Eduard and Martha, and Martha's obnoxious young niece Trijntje, but things become dangerous and they have to be moved after the police crack down on a group of anti-Hitlerite Germans who have been secretly meeting in the house at night. They next stay with Big Mie and Skinny Rinus, who are also very good to them, but they also have to leave there after one of the boys who regularly comes over to eat Big Mie's pancakes sees her great-great-grandfather's antique rifles and reports it to his father, who in turn tells the police. All weapons were supposed to have been turned in by 20 September 1940, and there will most likely be trouble. The girls' friend Henny, a nurse in the underground, smuggles them to their final hiding place in an ambulance. For the rest of the war they hide with the sweet kindly puppeteer Amici Enfante, an old friend of theirs, who insists they call him Mr. Ami, since ami is French for "friend."
Though there is a happy end in this book like in 'Hide and Seek' and 'Anna Is Still Here,' it's not without its sense of loss, of being forced to come to terms with everything bad that has happened. In real life Ida and her sister were reunited with their parents, but they also lost friends, relatives, their house, and most of their belongings. And in a book written for this particular age group, who would want a depressing conclusion when there were enough real-life sad endings to stories like this?