June 18, 2003

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

"I thought she would sail forever like a milkweed puff on an endless breeze, and I was running and wishing I could fly with her, and then she was gone..." These are the words of an orphaned boy whose innocence and kind heart bring the reader a fresh view of the occupation of Poland by the Nazis and the Warsaw ghetto created by them. The story starts with the boy not knowing who he is or where he is from. He simply knows himself as Stoptheif, Filthy Jew, or Gypsy. His only connection to his past is a necklace he wears. He is taken in by Uri, and a group of orphans who do whatever they can to survive the nightmare. Uri gives him the name of Misha and creates a history of his Gypsy background, so as not to be mistaken as a Jew. Misha is fascinated with the Navis and naievely envies their parades and uniforms. He steals food for himself, but also for an orphanage and a Jewish family where he has befriended Janine. It is the fascination and innocence with which Misha views his world and the slowly woven awakening to the reality of the horrors and cruelty of this world that makes this an amazing read.
Reed Reads Score: 4

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