If you enjoyed 'The Boy in Striped Pyjamas'.....

Middle Childhood (7-12 years)
[Historical Fiction]
bookSpinelli, J. (2000). Milkweed. London: Orchard Books
 Milkweed, a novel that is set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, is a poignant story. It will break your heart while finding many moments of happiness and humour in the life of the protagonist, Misha.
The story is told through the eyes of the eight year old Polish orphan boy. He is alone, seemingly free, unburdened and very naïve.  What he lacks in maturity, or maybe intelligence, he makes up for in survival skills. A group of Jewish boys adopt him as their friend, while collectively they endure the horrors of life in the deadly streets of Warsaw and the ghetto.
 One could say that Misha is not believable as a character. Yes Misha is very naïve, often called stupid by his friends but somehow, in spite of this he survives the ghetto.  Because of this character’s naivety, Spinelli allows the young reader to be transported on an unforgettable, haunting journey of the Holocaust.
However, at the same time, older readers will be fearful for Misha. His lack of awareness and danger are sometimes frustrating.
Although the subject matter is upsetting, much can be gained from this novel.  It would be suitable for children aged 11 onwards.  The historical setting of WW11, the themes of survival, death, prejudice and identity are very valuable topics of learning. 


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