The Year of Goodbyes

A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells
. 136p. 978-1-42312-901-1.
Gr 6-8 Inspired by her mother's "poesiealbum" (poetry album), which survived her childhood retreat from Nazi Germany, Levy has created a verse novel slim in length but long on beauty, power, and anguish. Jutta Salzberg lived a normal, happy life until 1938. Although Hitler's reign is in its infancy, Jewish Germans already face severe restrictions in their lives; segregated schools, shops, and curfews are already the norm, with stories of the public humiliation of elderly Jews and concentration camps to follow. This book is comprised of actual entries in the "poesiealbum" penned by Jutta's friends, interspersed with verses in 12-year-old Jutta's voice that respond to and even challenge the sentiments conveyed within each poem. Although her entries get darker and more frightful during Germany's descent into madness, there is still some joy to be found in birthday presents, friendships, and gymnastics lessons. Jutta, based upon Levy's mother, is a character to whom many preadolescents and adolescents, on the brink of questioning spoon-fed platitudes, can relate. The foreword, explaining "poesiealbums", and the afterword, detailing Jutta's post-immigration life, are essential reading. The author's extensive research, including tracking down the fate of the majority of Jutta's classmates, is detailed in an understated yet moving tone. A time line including pre- and post-World War II dates, as well as important dates within Jutta's life, is included, as are eight pages of family photos. An outstanding and emotionally taut read for children not quite ready for Jennifer Roy's "Yellow Star" (Marshall Cavendish, 2006) and other, more graphic depictions of the Holocaust."Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA" Copyright 2010 Media Source Inc.
This sequence of poems describes the last months one twelve-year-old Jewish girl spends in Germany before her family escapes the Holocaust. Based in part on the author's mother's poesiealbum--collected poems, drawings, and expressions of good wishes" popular with young girls at the time--this story enriches readers' understanding of and appreciation for the culture of childhood during the time of the Nazis. Timeline. Bib.

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