Saturday, July 20, 2019

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy was published in 2006. This is the fictionalized story of the author's aunt who was one of twelve children who survived the Lodz ghetto during WWII. Out of 270,000 Jews who were incarcerated there, only 800 survivors were left by the end of the war. Twelve were children, and her aunt was one of the twelve.

The author tried several ways to write this story and finally wrote the story as poetry. Because I am writing my own story in this format, I was happy to find this book at a Little Free Library. I hadn't heard of this book before, so a win to Little Free Libraries that help me find books I wouldn't have come across otherwise.

Syvia was only four years old when she entered the ghetto with her family. She was one day shy of her tenth birthday when they were liberated.

Roy uses strong imagery to tell this story and succeeds in getting the story across in the way a child might have seen the situations.  I have so many pages bookmarked.

Some examples -

From "Questions" page 4
My aunts are Jewish, my uncles and cousins, too,
Is my doll Jewish?

From "The Toilet" page 12
It is so dark in here. 
I feel so alone. 
What if I can't get out?
What if I'm trapped in this toilet, and nobody hears me?
At home they would hear and rescue me,

I remember as child having this fear of getting locked in the bathroom because of old doorknobs.

From "Women's Work" page 16
She said she was fourteen,
although she's really only twelve.
The Germans place greater value
on Jews who work,

"Am I not valuable to the Germans?"
I ask Papa.
"You are valuable to this family," he says,
"and that is enough."

"The Fence" page 17
A fence has been built
The ghetto is now a cage
with iron wires.
We are
sealed in.

Mother says,
Good now we are protected
from the Poles."

Father says, "No,
now we are the mercy
of the Nazis.
They are holding us here until they decide
how they will
get rid of us."

"The Bad News" page 85
The searches and deportations
are over
because all of the children
are gone.

All of them?

The ghetto is a cage
holding parents wild with grief,
and all that can be done is
wait and hope and pray
that the Nazis are right,
that the children are in a better place.

"In This Moment" page 142
Later I have time to think about these things
and wish I could have said
Thank you
I'm sorry your child couldn't be here, too,
safely encircled 
for that moment. 

But in that moment
all I could do was cry and tell myself,
I'm alive. 
I'm alive. 

I love this book and how Jennifer Roy shares this story as poetry.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

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