Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

I recommend this book for: grades 4-6

Milada is a girl living in Czechoslovakia. The Nazis are around, but other than food shortages, the people in her small village are largely unaffected by the war. Then one night everyone is awakened in the middle of the night and arrested. Families are separated, and Milada finds herself on a bus with only one other girl - and both of them have blonde hair and blue eyes.

This powerful and haunting story about children who were retrained and adopted as Germans blew me away. The graphic details of the war are absent, but that doesn't keep it from being tragic as Milada struggles with remembering her actual past versus the lies the Nazis feed the children, making and losing friends, and even at times forgetting that there was a time before she was called Eva. This is engrossing historical fiction with emotional impact, moreso because it is based on real events.

Two small quibbles with this book:
1) As there is little description of the details of the war, children who have no context for what WWII means will be confused by the references to smokestacks and the horrible smell that comes from them. It won't ruin the book, but it's worth talking about with kids who might read this one.

2) The cover art, although I liked it more after reading the book, is unfortunate. It looks a bit like a 1940s propaganda poster, which I like, but I'm afraid it's just going to look dated and unattractive to a 10 year old.

The pros.

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