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Volume VIII Number 1 . . . . September 7, 2001
There have been many books published in the last decade on this subject, the inhumane treatment of Jews during the Second World War, but readers, don't dismiss this title. This story is framed by Vera and Paul's contemporary visit with their grandmother (Gabi). Paul and Vera's game of hide and seek leads to a discussion of the dresser that sits in their grandmother's front room and a recounting of their grandmother's experiences living in Czechoslovakia during the Second World War.
When the war broke out, Gabi was living a comfortable life with her parents in Czechoslovakia. The story's drama builds as the Nazis move closer to her home and her father dies. Family and friends decide to flee, but, because Gabi refuses to be separated from her mother, they stay in their home. News reaches them that the Nazis are searching homes and taking away the young girls. Gabi says she will hide in the dresser. She tries hiding in the dresser and finds it terrifying. They agree to try again, but the next time Gabi hides in the dresser it is the real thing. The Nazis are in her home vandalizing everything, but, due to her mother's quick thinking and a little luck, the Nazis do not touch the dresser, and Gabi is spared.
The opening contemporary scenes are less compelling than the bulk of the story set in Czechoslovakia. Once readers get through the first chapter, they are into an absorbing story about a piece of Second World War history that is new to young readers of this genre.
Ruth McMahon is a Storyteller and Library Consultant and Co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Book Award.
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