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The War within These Walls

by Aline Sax
Illustrated by Caryl Strzelecki
Translated by Laura Watkinson from the Dutch

Published by Eerdmans, 2013
175 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5428-5

Age 13 and older

The Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 brought harassment and humiliation, then devastation for Jews. Misha and his family live in the area that becomes the Warsaw Ghetto, and the teenager is so angry. More and more families are crammed into their apartment. Food becomes scarcer and scarcer. He finds purpose sneaking out through the sewers to find food for his family. But the day he sees a German soldier shoot a flamethrower through the sewers is the day he becomes paralyzed by fear. So his little sister takes over the missions. One day she doesn’t return. “It tore me apart, that I didn’t dare go look for her.” Misha finds purpose again when he’s invited to join the group organizing a resistance of deportations to the camps in 1942. “We fought. For days. / We fought as new Jew had fought before. / But it was not enough. / Not nearly enough. / Mordechai was right. / We were not fighting to win. / We were fighting for an honorable death.” A spare yet emotionally vivid account of life and death in the Warsaw Ghetto pairs an unflinching narrative that offers moments of heart-stopping honesty with black-and-white illustrations that are also evocative in a beautifully designed, arresting volume.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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