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The Key is Lost

by Ida Vos
Translated by Terese Edestein, from the Dutch

Published by Harper Collins, 2000
272 pages
ISBN: 0688162835

Ages 9-12

As a child, the author went into hiding with her sister in Holland to escape from Nazi persecution of Jewish people of all ages during World War II. Her earlier novels set during this time have evoked a powerful sense of child bewilderment linked with innocent courage. They include Hide and Seek (1991), Anna Is Still Here (1993), and Dancing on the Bridge of Avignon (1995), all published in translation by Houghton Mifflin. None has centered as clearly on those emotions as this one. In it readers become acquainted with 12-year-old Eva and her sister Lisa, who must go into hiding, becoming separated from their parents, their community, and even their own names. The girls are moved from one hiding place to another whenever the partisans hiding them choose not to maintain that dangerous role. The girls have only each other, uncertain where their parents are, or whether they'll be able to find their family again if or when they become free. Together the sisters share memories, and they have a gift for imagination that helps them survive. A unique, suspenseful novel about terror-filled experiences is filled with believable dialogue and credible responses on the parts of children and adults. An excellent companion novel to Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin, 1989). CCBC categories: Fiction for Children; Historical People, Places, and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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