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Milkweed 1 Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Spinelli, Jerry
ISBN: 0375861475     ISBN-13: 9780375861475
Publisher: Ember
    OUR PRICE: $8.99  
Product Type: Paperback - Other Formats
Published: March 2010
Annotation: The hardship and cruelty of life in the ghettos of Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of World War II is captured through the eyes of a young Jewish orphan who must use all his wit and courage to survive unimaginable circumstances.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
World War, 1939-1945; Poland; Juvenile fiction.
Jews; Poland; Fiction.
Coming of age; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2010007092
Lexile Measure: 510
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.00" H x 5.00" W x 0.50" (0.40 lbs) 208 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 71828
Reading Level: 3.6   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 7.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q34085
Reading Level: 5.2   Interest Level: Grades 6-8   Point Value: 13.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many novels for young readers, including The Warden's Daughter; Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-Yo String, the autobiography of his childhood. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring)
A homeless young boy joins an unruly gang of Jewish street kids. The horrors of the Holocaust donÆt become evident until Misha (another of SpinelliÆs exuberant, good-hearted protagonists) and his friends are rounded up and confined to the Warsaw ghetto. Though this novel suffers from uneven pacing and a conclusion thatÆs unconvincing and cloying, it also contains some memorably harrowing images that will remain in the reader's mind. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #6)
A homeless young boy roams the streets of Warsaw, stealing food to stay alive. Asked what his name is, the undersized youth replies, "Stopthief." After he joins a gang of homeless Jewish boys, their ringleader Uri gives him a name and a fabricated history: he will be Misha Pilsudski, a Russian gypsy who was stolen from his parents. Though the Nazi invasion of Poland has begun, Misha's early days with Uri are almost carefree. They live in the cellar of an abandoned barbershop, gorge on caviar, candy, and other stolen treats, and even borrow -- and crash -- a streetcar. After viewing a parade of marching Nazi soldiers, the (impossibly) naive narrator declares, "I want to be a Jackboot." The horrors of the Holocaust don't become evident until he and his friends are rounded up and confined to the Warsaw ghetto. There he lives in a closet-sized room with his fiery young friend Janina and her family, sneaking out of the ghetto each evening to smuggle food back in. Misha is another of Spinelli's exuberant, goodhearted protagonists. But here the author seems constrained by the historical parameters of his subject matter, resulting in uneven pacing, a character who is believable only if read allegorically, and a final chapter -- set decades after the war -- that's unconvincing and cloying. Though a few of the novel's motifs (including an angel statue and a milkweed plant that somehow grows within the ghetto) seem obvious and heavy-handed, the narrative does contain some harrowing images (Misha and Janina taking refuge in her mother's open grave during a bombing; a silent, darkened merry-go-round; and a cow, engulfed in flames, flying through the air) that will remain in the reader's mind. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2003 September #1)
For this WWII tale set in Warsaw, Spinelli (Wringer) invents a narrator akin to Roberto Benigni's character in Life Is Beautiful. The narrator intermittently indicates that he has some distance from the events, but his perspective affords him no insight, so readers may be as confounded as he. As the novel opens, Uri, a larger boy, chases down the narrator and pries away the loaf of bread he has pinched: " `I'm Uri... What's your name?'... `Stopthief.' " After Uri realizes that the boy truly does not know his own name, Uri gives him one-Misha Pilsudski-as well as a past (befitting the boy's "Gypsy" appearance). Simple-minded Misha admires the Nazis, whom the boys call "Jackboots" ("They were magnificent. There were men attached to them, but it was as if the boots were wearing the men.... A thousand of them swinging up as one, falling like the footstep of a single, thousand-footed giant"). Misha comes off as a clown, and for children unfamiliar with the occupation and its horrors, the juxtaposition of events and Misha's detached relating of them may be baffling (Nazis force Jews to wash the street with their beards, and hang one of Misha's friends from a street lamp). At times, he seems self-aware ("I had no sense. If I had had sense, I would know what all the other children knew: the best defense... was invisibility"), yet these moments are aberrations; he never learns from his experience, and a postlude does little to bring either his perspective or the era into focus. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2003 November)
Gr 5 Up-In Warsaw in 1939, a boy wanders the streets and survives by stealing what food he can. He knows nothing of his background: Is he a Jew? A Gypsy? Was he ever called something other than Stopthief? Befriended by a band of orphaned Jewish boys, he begins to share their sleeping quarters. He understands very little of what is happening. When the Nazi "Jackboots" march into the town, he greets them happily, admires their shiny boots and tanks, and hopes he can join their ranks someday. He eventually adopts a name, Misha, and a family, that of his friend Janina Milgrom, a girl he meets while stealing food in her comfortable neighborhood. When the Milgroms are forced to move into the newly created ghetto, Misha cheerfully accompanies them. There, he is one of the few small enough to slip through holes in the wall to smuggle in food. By the time trains come to take the ghetto's residents away, Misha realizes what many adults do not-that the passengers won't be going to the resettlement villages at the journey's end. Reading this unusual, fresh view of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of a child who struggles to understand the world around him is like viewing a poignant collage of Misha's impressions. He shares certain qualities with Spinelli's Maniac Magee, especially his intense loyalty to those he cares about and his hopeful, resilient spirit. This historical novel can be appreciated both by readers with previous knowledge of the Holocaust and by those who share Misha's innocence and will discover the horrors of this period in history along with him.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.