Loic Dauvillier has crafted a story that captures the experience of a Jewish child in occupied France during World War II. The hostility and abuse suffered by those marked with the Jewish star is shown, but without gory details to frighten young readers. The exclusion from activities, the belittling insults, and generally negative treatment are seen through the eyes of a child. But the kindness of neighbors and strangers is also acknowledged. Dounia's parents hide her, a neighbor takes her in, and others in the resistance play a part in keeping her safe until the war is over.
Dounia's questions are the same ones that students ask when this period of history is studied. Why were the Jews treated so badly? Why did some people who knew them turn on them while others helped them? What were the camps that Dounia hears about? Students can relate to her confusion about why it is all happening. They can also see that not everyone went along with the German demands to turn over Jewish citizens and that there were many who risked their lives to help.
This is a good introduction to the subject of what happened during World War II. I can easily see this being used with 5th graders. The way Dounia waits all those years and finally tells her granddaughter about what happened is very true to what many survivors did.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book will be published on April 1, 2014.