Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy (Brilliance)

Booklist Starred Review

Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction Audiobooks for Youth

Five years after confinement by the Nazis in the Lodz Ghetto, in Poland, nine-year-old Syvia Perlmutter and her family are among the 800 Jews (including 12 children) who are rescued after Nazi guards flee the approaching Allied armies. Reader Gilbert’s youthful tones to represent Syvia heighten the youngster’s fear of the Nazis as she hides indoors after all the children have been deported, hears the “sputsputspop . . . vrroomm” of the Nazi officers’ motorcycles, and lies with her father in a newly dug grave to escape detection. Syvia’s lilting voice, filled with childlike nuances, pauses, and pacing, matches her growth from five to nine years old. Gilbert speaks in adult tones for the backstory, deepening her register to represent Syvia’s father and other males. Syvia’s voice becomes scratchy when she is ill and reflects sadness when her best friend disappears and another friend is sent to the death camps. The cry of “Give us your children” by the Nazis inflicts terror in her mind as she thinks, “I’m the only one left.” Gilbert emulates appropriate sound effects, from the boom of nearby bombs and zoom of fleeing motorcycles to the clink of china teacups in happier days. Somber music begins and ends each disc, setting the stage for this free-verse Holocaust tale, which includes a time line and follow-up information based on facts, on Syvia and her friends. Booklist

During the Holocaust, Nazi officials established the Lodz Ghetto in Poland, a desolate home to more than 245,000 Jews. Only 877 survived, including just 12 children. This story-in-verse offers listeners a glimpse of the experiences of Syvia Perlmutter, Roy’s aunt, in the Lodz Ghetto from 1939, when she was just four years old, through 1945. Through Syvia’s eyes, we learn of the loving family who tried to endure unbelievable deprivations, seeing conditions deteriorate and neighbors disappear daily. Roy recreated these vignettes from her aunt’s taped narrative. Tavia Gilbert’s narration brings Syvia, her family members, and friends to life. While some pronunciations are questionable, the overall effect is authentic. Though Holocaust study is usually reserved for older students, this personal account serves as a rare foray into the perceptions and impressions of a little girl amidst grave realities.  Family love and support somehow overpower the heinous forces which would destroy all in the Ghetto, and Syvia manages to endure by cooperating with her courageous parents. Winner of several literary awards, this is a unique choice for understanding the dark years of Holocaust history, with a glimmer of hope emanating from one little girl who survived. School Library Journal