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  • ISBN10: 0439676959
  • ISBN13: 9780439676953
  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Laurel Leaf

by Jerry Spinelli

Reviewed by jessmonster

Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Posted 14 years ago
  • Viewed 4170 times, 0 comments
  • Average user rating: (5/5)


Over the course of a week, several baking projects, and new curtains, I listened to Ron Rifkin read me Milkweed. The story is painful mostly because, for an adult or anyone who's even sampled the multitude of children's books about the Holocaust, the downward slide is inevitable. From the orphan who thinks his name is Stopthief and can wallow in a small mountain of stolen food with the other boys, to the boy Misha who brings home a cooked rat for his adopted sister, to the arrival of trains in the Warsaw ghetto - we are not surprised. But Stopthief-Misha-Jack is surprised. Or, if not surprised, uncomprehending. While he looks out for others, slipping out a hole in the wall and bringing food to the ghetto, others must look out for him, for the boy who doesn't know the meaning of happy or how to comb his hair.

The voice is perfect - both the voice of the character and the voice of Rifkin as the character. Soothing and jarring at the same time, innocent and hardened, sad but somehow joyful. There are moments of incredulity - that the boy has survived so long, that he understands so little of what is going on - but it only mirrors the incomprehensible world around him.

I was surprised at how far the story followed Misha, but it has no tidy, feel-good ending. I'm not sure who I would recommend this to, although it's excellent. The sense of foreshadowing reminded me of Ellen Klage's The Green Glass Sea, where the person who knows WWII history knows where the story ends, but some readers could potentially miss the depth of the story - or be surprised into learning a piece of history.

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