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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Mirjam Pressler
Age Range: 12+
Poland, 1943; seven-year-old Malka’s childhood is shattered when the Germans begin their ‘special operations’ and she has to escape across the border to Hungary with her mother, Hannah Mai and sister, Minna. After being separated from them, Malka arrives back in Poland where she has to learn to survive alone in the Jewish ghetto and on the run, in a climate of fear and danger, while her desperate mother struggles to find her. The narrative follows the story of Hannah Mai as she searches for her youngest daughter and of Malka as she fends off starvation and the regular round-up of the Jews.
Mirjam Pressler’s narrative conveys the brutality and harshness of Malka’s life without sensationalising it. Both poignant, and at times shocking – in particular, how some of her own community shun her when she needs their help most – but there are many individual acts of kindness that are heart-warming in this powerful, haunting novel that is based on a true story.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)