This week has been declared #Readukkah by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). In honor of the event, I’ve reviewed a new book, and will share other new book news below.
TUKY: THE STORY OF A HIDDEN CHILD by Shterni Rosenfeld (Hachai 2015)
Here’s my Goodreads review:
Reviewing for #Readukkah.
Tuky provides a very focused, child’s-eye view of the Holocaust. When WWII breaks out, a 6 year-old Jewish girl, Tuky, is at first not directly affected because she lives in Budapest. She notices the war when refugees start showing up on her doorstep. Her family is eventually arrested after the Nazis take over Hungary, and then they must scatter and hide in order to survive. This is a true story, based on the life of the author’s mother.
Tuky is written at about a 3rd grade level, but my 5th grader (who reads well above grade level) enjoyed it very much. He described it as exciting, sometimes a bit scary and sad, but with a mostly happy ending. He did note that (view spoiler)
If you want a gentle entry into Holocaust literature, but know that a child will be reading further in the future, this would be a good way to go. The main character is hungry and in danger, but she and (rather miraculously) her entire family survive the war. The family is Orthodox, and she relies very strongly on her faith to endure fear and deprivation. This ameliorates the terror most children would feel in Tuky’s shoes. I very much appreciated that this was a true story.
However, if this is the only book a child will ever read about the Holocaust, it could cause a problem. That not only Tuky survived, but her entire family, is wonderful…but is so exceptional. I wouldn’t want a reader to mistakenly assume that her experience was normal.
I also thought some of the timing was odd – Tuky is constantly described as 6 years old, but the events of the book take place over about two years, I think.
There is discussion of some Hassidic traditions which will appeal to some readers, but which other readers might find odd even if they are Orthodox, but not Hassidic. (Namely, Tuky ascribes her survival in part on the blessing of a Hassidic rabbi, which rests on a coin worn about the neck.)
There’s a great glossary, historical note, and an interview between the author and her mother, Tuky. These are nice touches. I loved that the readers get a little bit of flavor from the use of Hungarian terms for certain things, foods described, and the like. These details are charming and added depth to the setting. Overall, Tuky is a very practical book for introducing the Holocaust to children.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of the book, but am under no commitment to review the book, and will not be paid in any other way for a review.
In other Jewish kidlit news, L.A. author Nathaniel Wyckoff just released his second Peretz Family Adventure, Yaakov and the Treasures of Timna Valley. I haven’t gotten to read it yet in full, but my sons loved it. It’s a lighthearted sci-fi thriller for kids.
Finally, the lovely Rae Shagalov (who is known for her outstanding calligraphy, but is also a librarian extraordinaire) shared with me her latest project, Emek Kosher Comics, Issue #1. Her students at Emek Hebrew Academy in North Hollywood, California created a comic book…and she challenges other schools to do the same! My kids enjoyed the comic, which is student-created. My favorite part is the chapter called, “The Shabbos Angels’ Contest.”
If you’re still looking for a Chanukah gift for your young reader, you may want to check out one of those leads.
Will you be reading and reviewing a book for #Readukkah?