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Good Night, Maman


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About the Author

NORMA FOX MAZER is an award-winning novelist and a faculty member in the well-respected Vermont College Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program. Her books have received a Newbery Honor, the Christopher Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery, a National Book Award nomination, and other prestigious honors. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.


This story of a WWII French-Jewish refugee suggests the grimness of the era without becoming too formidable for young readers to ingest. Indicating, but not dwelling upon her heroine's suffering, Mazer (When She Was Good) traces the 12-year-old's arduous journey to freedom. The Nazis have sent Karin's father to Poland, and the rest of the family lives in hiding in a French woman's attic. Soon, however, the arrangement becomes too dangerous and Karin, her older brother and their mother are forced to flee south. Maman falls ill and is unable to complete the journey; the children regretfully continue on their own, eventually gaining passage on a ship to America. The second half of the novel takes place in the same refugee camp in Oswego, N.Y., that served as the setting for Miriam Bat-Ami's Two Suns in the Sky (Children's Forecasts, May 17). While Bat-Ami's portrayal of the refugee camp has more depth, Mazer's writing is more fluid. Karin and her brother, Marc, struggle to overcome homesickness and begin a new life. Karin gradually lets go of the past, finally realizing that she will never see her beloved Maman again. The issues are somewhat neatened for the sake of young readers; this story may serve as an introduction to the Holocaust and its effect on survivors, but doesn't have the impact of other titles in this genre. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 4-7-A touching novel that begins in 1940 and ends in 1945. Mazer follows 12-year-old Karin Levi and her experiences first as a hidden Jewish child in France, next as a traveling refugee, and, finally, as an inmate in the displaced persons camp in Oswego, NY. After Karin, her mother, and older brother leave France, they stay with a kind man in Italy. When it becomes clear that they must flee, the girl's mother is too ill to continue, and the two siblings must leave her behind. Throughout the book, the child deals with her feelings of loss by writing her mother letters. Mazer captures the refugee experience as Karin travels from place to place in constant fear with no sense of belonging, until she finally settles in at Oswego. Although the prose occasionally becomes strained and even saccharine, such as when the girl refers to her family as her "beloveds," for the most part, Karin's voice is realistic. Despite everything she has been through, she has her moments of petty jealousy and preteen difficulties. However, when her brother finally tells her that their mother did not survive, she manages to overcome her grief and look to the future when they will live with their father's aunt in California. Libraries looking to expand the scope of their Holocaust literature will find this book a welcome addition.- Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

?Riveting. Stirringly understated.?Kirkus Reviews"Mazer writes with a simplicity that personalizes the history. Direct. Honest."Kirkus Reviews

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