Good Night, Maman (Harper Trophy Books)

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9780064409230: Good Night, Maman (Harper Trophy Books)

Dearest Maman,
I keep all my letters to you in my notebook under my pillow. One day, when we're together again, I'll give them to you, and we'll sit and read them....

In June 1940, twelve-year-old Karin Levi's world is torn apart as the German army occupies Paris. Karin, her older brother, Marc, and their maman must flee, seeking safety wherever they can find it. But Maman falls ill and is unable to travel, forcing Karin and Marc to leave her behind. When Marc manages to obtain two coveted places aboard a ship bound for America, the distance between them grows even greater. Will Karin ever see her beloved maman again?

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Review:

Young readers who have loved and mourned Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl may take solace in the more hopeful ending of Good Night, Maman, Norma Fox Mazer's tender story of a brother and sister's escape from the Holocaust. Like all Jews in France during World War II, Karin and her older brother Marc are on the run from the Nazis. At first the siblings and their strong and gentle mother hide for more than a year in a tiny storage closet in a neighbor's house. But when the Jew Searches are intensified, they must leave, traveling on foot and only at night. At last Karin and Marc are lucky enough to find places on a ship bound for the United States, but Maman is too ill for the journey and must stay behind. At the refugee camp in Oswego, New York, Karin takes comfort in writing unmailed letter after letter to her mother, as she and Marc struggle to adjust to a new country, a new language, and each other's changing needs. Marc finally reveals that Maman is dead, a sad fact he has kept to himself to shelter his sister--to allow her to increase her own strength with the support of her mother's remembered presence.

Mazer based her novel on historical fact--the camp at Fort Ontario in Oswego was the only official shelter offered to European Jews by the United States. For a contrasting treatment of this same setting, teens will want to read Two Suns in the Sky, by Miriam Bat-Ami. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell

About the Author:

Norma Fox Mazer, who lives in Montpelier, Vermont, has written nearly thirty novels and short-story collections for young adults. Her novels, including Missing Pieces, Out of Control, Girlhearts, and the Newbery Honor Book After the Rain, are critically acclaimed and popular among young readers for their portrayal of teens.

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Norma Fox Mazer
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