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Home » Books » Children's » Fiction » People & Places » United States » General

The Devil's Arithmetic

By Jane Yolen

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Format: Paperback / softback, 170 pages
Other Information: illustrations
Published In: USA, 01 August 1997

Product Description:

Grade 4-20cm this novel, Yolen attempts to answer those who question why the Holocaust should be remembered. Hannah, 12, is tired of remembering, and is embarrassed by her grandfather, who rants and raves at the mention of the Nazis. Her mother's explanations of how her grandparents and great-aunt lost all family and friends during that time have little effect. Then, during a Passover Seder, Hannah is chosen to open the door to welcome the prophet Elijah. As she does so, she is transported to a village in Poland in the 1940s, where everyone thinks that she is Chaya, who has just recovered from a serious illness. She is captured by the Nazis and taken to a death camp, where she is befriended by a young girl named Rivka, who teaches her how to fight the dehumanising processes of the camp and hold onto her identity. When at last their luck runs out and Rivka is chosen, Hannah/Chaya, in an almost impulsive act of self-sacrifice, goes in her stead. As the door to the gas chamber closes behind her, she is returned to the door of her grandparents' apartment, waiting for Elijah. Through Hannah, with her memories of the present and the past, Yolen does a fine job of illustrating the importance of remembering. She adds much to children's understanding of the effects of the Holocaust, which will reverberate throughout history, today and tomorrow. Susan M. Harding, Mesquite Public Library, Tex.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jane Yolen is the author of more than three hundred books, including Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?. Her books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, National Jewish Book Award and numerous awards and accolades. She splits her time between Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.

Reviews

The Holocaust was so monstrous a crime that the mind resists belief and the story must be made new for each individual. Yolen's book is about remembering. During a Passover Seder, 12-year-old Hannah finds herself transported from America in 1988 to Poland in 1942, where she assumes the life of young Chaya. Within days the Nazis take Chaya and her neighbors off to a concentration camp, mere components in the death factory. As days pass, Hannah's own memory of her past, and the prisoners' future, fades until she is Chaya completely. Chaya/Hannah's final sacrifice, and the return of memory, is her victory over the horror. The book's simplicity is its strength; no comment is needed because the facts speak for themselves. This brave and powerful book has much it can teach a young audience. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)

EAN: 9780140345353
ISBN: 0140345353
Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc
Dimensions: 19.71 x 12.78 x 1.19 centimetres (0.07 kg)
Age Range: 10-14 years
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1 review(s)
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Tracy Henderson on
 
A great and cleverly written story about a Jewish girl at passover who when opening the door for the prophet Elijah is transported back to where her relatives use to live in Poland during WW2. It follows the story of her as someone living during that time and comes to realise exactly what her relatives had to endure. A sad and interesting read with a movie based on it starring Kirsten Dunst!

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