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Milkweed, by Jerry Spinelli

(image credit:

(Image credit:

Spinelli, Jerry. Milkweed. New York, NY: Laurel-Leaf Books, 2005. Print.

Annotation: A boy in Warsaw, Poland struggles to find an identity and a family as WWII pulls the world apart around him.

Mini Review: Where does identity come from? Is it something you’re born with, that you receive from family and friends, that accumulates through your experiences? Maybe it’s all of those things; Misha Pilsudski would know. Or is his name Jack Milgrom? Set in Warsaw during WWII, Milkweed is the story of a boy with no name. One day he falls in with Uri, another street orphan, who gives him a name and a history, and the boy becomes Misha. Before long he’s given another identity: “Filthy Son of Abraham.” Adopting himself into a Jewish family, Misha now lives in the ghetto, a walled-in area in which the Nazis kept the Jews. As a tiny, talented smuggler, Misha takes on the responsibility of feeding his adopted family.

Throughout the book, we see the events of WWII in a new light: a small scale view, through the eyes of someone who had no way of understanding what was happening. What mattered to Misha was only what happened to him and the people he loved. To be able to climb inside the mind of someone whose thoughts developed in another world is the ideal of historical fiction; this story pulls it off effortlessly.

Parent’s Guide Children’s Media Award
Golden Kite Award for Fiction, 2004
ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2004
Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List, 2004


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