It’s 1933 and 12-year-old Erich Levi and his family are Jews living in rural Germany. A sensitive, hardworking student with dreams of attending university, Erich is too busy with school, friends and bar mitzvah study to pay attention to politics. But after the Nazis assume control, Erich’s life as a Jewish boy gradually becomes a nightmare. At school, he is treated harshly, excluded from sports and bullied by classmates who have joined the Hitler Youth. At home, the community boycotts his father’s business. Somehow Erich endures, quietly celebrating his bar mitzvah, keeping a low profile in school and briefly falling in love. Isolated, humiliated and terrorized, Erich and his family hold fast to one another grateful for a few loyal neighbors as their lives and dreams shatter. This fictionalized account of the life of the real Levi family between 1933 and 1938 presents a shocking microcosm of Nazi persecution of German Jews, as well as a moving lesson in the evil of mass racial intolerance and the great goodness of individual moral courage as witnessed by an innocent school boy. (epilogue, author’s note, notes) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7868-3880-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)


From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A superb historical thriller.


Thirteen-year-old Paolo Crivelli dreams of being a hero in Nazi-occupied Florence.

It’s a tricky business living in an occupied city. The Allies are advancing from the south, Paolo’s father is missing (thought to be fighting for the Partisans), and the Crivelli family is caught between the Nazi occupiers and the sometimes ruthless Partisans. This first novel by acclaimed children’s picture-book writer and illustrator Hughes expertly captures the tension in the Crivelli home, as Rosemary tries to raise her two children and keep them safe while covertly supporting the Partisan cause. Not so easy with a son like Paolo, who risks sneaking out at night on his bicycle, looking for his own way to be a hero for the cause. There are plenty of heroes here, as layers of resistance to the Nazis are carefully delineated—the obvious bold resistance of the Partisans in the countryside, Rosemary’s agreement to house escaped prisoners of war in her cellar, a lifesaving tip from the captain of the local military police and even a sympathetic member of the Gestapo who conveniently finds nothing when searching the Crivellis’ cellar. The townspeople, a dog and even Paolo’s bicycle play a role in the resistance movement, though the dangers and the realities of war are always tangible in this fine novel.

A superb historical thriller. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6037-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet