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on 12 December 2005
For fans of Jerry Spinelli, this is a book that certainly won't let you down. Instead of Spinelli's usual thread about daring to be different, this book gives a touching and thought-provoking account of one little boy's experience of the Holocaust. Just another book of the same old conveyor belt? No - the main character is young, giving a view of events happening around him in an almost naive yet clear-sighted way, and you can see how some people live through events such as these. Spinelli has excelled himself in writing another book that will not fail to touch your heartstrings, but above all let you ponder upon the reason why such things happen to people like the young boy in the story.
Spinelli says himself, does the world really need another holocaust book? What right does he have to write about the sufferances of the thousands of Jews suppressed by the Nazis? Only that he cares. This is evident all the way through the book, and you get a sense of the compassion and, occassionally, the anger, Spinelli feels manifested in the actions of the characters.
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on 16 February 2004
I love Jerry Spinelli's books, and this one is no exception. The story focuses on a young orphan boy with no name, growing up on the streets of Warsaw as the German army moves in. The boy has no real idea of war or prejudice, and watches the opression of the Jews in the town through wholely innocent eyes, seeing the soldiers parades as exciting, their shiny boots and helmets as beautiful - unsure why the gang he hangs about with are scared.
This book deals with one of the darkest periods of modern history in a compassionate and readable way. It is great for children who are just starting to take an interest in history as it gives a great insight into the lives of the people who actually lived through the events, without worrying about times or dates.
A unique childrens's book which should be read by adults as well.
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on 9 November 2006
I don't really read holocaust books because they are just too sad, but I decided to give this one ago because of the great reviews I'd heard.

It's about a young boy who doesn't know his own age and assumes that his name is "Stopthief". You follow him as he tells the story of the Holocaust through his own innocent eyes and you see the changes that he and the people he love go through. The majority of the book is not set in the concentration camps, but in the ghetto and the time before that, as the persecution began.

It is written in a very simple style which gives a voice to Misha (previously "Stopthief") as he realizes and doesn't realize what is happening around him.

The simple style means that horrible events can happen mostly without sentiment but very clearly and matter of factly. Misha himself is not particularly upset by dead bodies being slung onto carts, although the reader might be, but because of Misha's voice and the short chapters your attention is pulled elsewhere before the meaning really has a chance to sink in. I think this really helped show the innocence of the young boy and also make the book a lot easier to read and to take. I wouldn't recommend it to children much under 11 though because some parts, such as a man who particularly likes suffocating kids, are a bit gruesome and nasty for younger readers.

Although I really didn't expect to actually enjoy a book about the Holocaust, Milkweed is completely compelling and is worth reading just for the loving little boy with a changeable name who can't keep still.

It maybe sad in parts but I think it's worth it.
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on 12 September 2004
The idea of the completely independant and innocent observer works brilliantly for this, one of the darkest times of our history. Labelled a children's book it deserves better, full of excellent writing and raw emotions, better even than Malorie Blackman in my opinion, brilliant
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I loved this book. I am a huge fan of Jerry Spinelli's work and have read quite a bit of it. I must say that this is the best book of his that I have read so far, and whatever comes after it is going to have a lot to live up to. This is the story of a young, orphaned gipsy boy growing up on the streets of Warsaw in the late 1930's. He does not remember having parents, he does not know how old he is, and he thinks that his name is 'Stop Thief'. The story starts as he bumps into an older boy who is part of a street gang, living on their wits. He is taken under their wing and roams the city with them until the Nazi's invade. He tells the story of the fall of Warsaw, the persecution of the Jews, the ghetto and the eventual liquidation of the Jews in the death camps in his own, naive style, and it is a powerfully affecting story. This is beautifully told, and gives a new perspective on a story that has been told many times already. It is clever and funny and sad and touching and it really makes you think, as you see events from the eyes of an illiterate, untutored child who holds none of the same beliefs and/or prejudices as everyone around him.
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on 20 April 2007
Labelled a children's book: but this book deserves to be read by both adults and children.

The main character is a boy without history, without a name or even an origin, he is the innocent onlooker into the world of war torn Poland. He doesn't even know what a Jew is.

The narrative voice allows an innocent and sparse account of the events in Poland from 1939, this sparse voice adds weight to the story.

Better than The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in my opinion.
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on 14 October 2005
This book is amazing, I read it early this year and I can honestly say that it is in the top ten best books I've ever read and considering I have three tall bookshelves of books only from the last four years that is saying a lot. I normally like average teen reads and a few adult reads. I do have an interest in the war though. this book crammed so much into its pages it was an average sized read but also an amazing one. It does have lots of sad bits in it and it just really makes you think. Although it does have its sad bits there are also nice bits like the strong bond between Janina and the main character. I truly recommend this as its a fantastic read.
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on 22 November 2011
this book was given to me for free by a local book store for world book day. not something i would normally choose but i loved it from start to finish. i have since read other books by jerry spinelli and have never been dissapointed.
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on 23 November 2014
I am reading this with my year 5 and 6 children whilst studying WW2. There are some parts that are a bit grown-up for them and I have had to omit a few slang words.
But fast delivery and it was in good condition.
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on 11 January 2013
This book was great, I've always loved reading about the war and this didn't disappoint, moving, funny and crazy. Really interesting.
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