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The Devil's Arithmetic
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a book about a girl transported to the time of the Holocaust. Readers understand the importance of keeping historical events alive through this book that directly connects horrific past events to the character's life. It is a gripping story that brings readers face to face with the horrors of the Holocaust, including prisoners being beaten and shot, frank descriptions of Nazi concentration camps -- and the death of children.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Thirteen-year old Hannah detests attending her family Seder. All the talk about remembering the Holocaust bores her until she finds herself transported to a Polish shtetl in 1942. There she joins the inhabitants as they're taken to a concentration camp. Through Hannah, readers find themselves in a grim four-day journey by \ boxcar to the concentration camp. In all that time Hannah gets one cup \ of dirty water to drink; she's packed in so tightly she can't move; with \ no toilet facilities, people simply soil themselves, adding to the \ intolerable odors. On the way, a child dies in her mother's arms and one of Hannah's \ new friends dies too. And that's just the beginning of the horror.
Is it any good?
This time-travel story, an excellent introduction to the Holocaust, has great power for young readers. Teens sometimes casually dismiss the past as irrelevant and uninteresting. In THE DEVIL'S ARITHMETIC, Jane Yolen uses that attitude, and an intriguing time-travel plot device, to place a modern teen in a traumatic historical event, helping to bring history to life and directly connecting past events to the character's life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Holocaust. Why do people still read and write about this horrible event? Why is it important to read stories like Hannah's?
This book was made into a movie starring Kirsten Dunst. If you've seen the movie, compare and contrast the two. Which tells a more powerful story? If you haven't seen it, do you want to? How do most movies made from books fare?
For kids who love history and historical fiction
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.