Yellow Star

by Jennifer Roy

Jennifer Roy conveys vivid images in an authentic, childlike voice as she tells the... read more

Jennifer Roy conveys vivid images in an authentic, childlike voice as she tells the story of a young Jewish girl living in the Lodz ghetto in Poland during World War II. Syvia is four-and-a-half years old when the novel opens. She doesn’t understand why being Jewish matters, or why she and her family must go to the ghetto. It’s the first of many events beyond comprehension for the little girl, who will spend the next five-and-a-half years of her life there. Much of that time, Syvia is in hiding. Beginning in 1942, the Nazis began transports to remove children and the elderly from the ghetto. Syvia’s parents had heard the rumors of where those transports went, and they were determined she would not be on one. The little girl and her father hide in the cemetery during roundups, and she spends day after day alone, cooped up inside their small living space, using her imagination to transform dust balls beneath the bed into toys and companions. Jennifer Roy’s novel is based on the life of her aunt, who was one of only twelve children who survived the Lodz ghetto (there were only 800 or so survivors in all among the initial quarter million held there). Roy’s narrative is divided into sections by calendar year. She provides informational bridges at the start of each section to give readers background for the story as it continues to unfold. The fictional narrative, in Syvia’s immediate, innocent voice, is conveyed through poems that in and of themselves are a metaphor for the way childhood unfolds: as a collection of singular images and events. From these a memorable narrative whole emerges in a story in which individuals and relationships grow and change over time, just as a child’s understanding of the world also expands. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2007

show less