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When Israeli author Orlev, who drew on his own ghetto experiences in The Island on Bird Street (1984; Batchelder Award), met a certain Polish journalist, they found that both had been boys in Warsaw during WW II; Orlev kept ``Marek's" extensive confidences secret (including his discovery in 1942 that his father--executed in 1934 as a Communist--was Jewish) until his death in 1987. Now, Orlev shapes Marek's account into a powerful novel about a devout 13-year-old Catholic in a virulently anti-Semitic society, responding to his experiences by coming to champion the Jews walled in near his home. With stepfather Antony, Marek already knows the ghetto: travelling through sewers, they take food to sell there at high prices, often returning with a baby to hide with the nuns (no charge). Still, Marek is casually anti-Semitic until he helps rob a Jewish escapee and is caught by his mother, who points out that ``You sentenced him to death" and reveals his own heritage. Deeply shaken, Marek sets out to make amends. He befriends a man he sees crossing himself the wrong way and ultimately leads him back, underground, to the ghetto, during the heroic ghetto uprising. Orlev's characters are sobering, believable blends: e.g., Antony dislikes Jews but, knowing Marek's background, wants to adopt him; he turns others' dire needs to profit but has ``nothing against human beings." Many others in this richly authentic story are equally complex. Subtle, beautifully crafted, altogether compelling. (Fiction. 10+) -- Copyright ÃÂ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Uri Orlev is an Israeli author and translator of children's books. He was a recipient of the 1996 Hans Christian Andersen Award in recognition of his "lasting contribution to children's literature." Four of his books have been given the annual American Library Association award: The Island on Bird Street, The Man from the Other Side, The Lady with the Hat, and Run, Boy, Run.
"From the first page, this grabs you like a thriller."--Booklist, starred review "Subtle, beautifully crafted, altogether compelling."--Kirkus Reviews, pointer review "This is a story of individual bravery and national shame that highlights just how hopeless was the fate of the Warsaw Jews as they fought alone and heroically against the Nazi war machine." --School Library Journal, starred review From the first page, this grabs you like a thriller. Booklist, starred review Subtle, beautifully crafted, altogether compelling. Kirkus Reviews, pointer review "This is a story of individual bravery and national shame that highlights just how hopeless was the fate of the Warsaw Jewsas they fought alone and heroically against the Nazi war machine." School Library Journal, starred review"