Through the story of Edith Schwalb Gelbard, who survived the Holocaust by continually moving and hiding, the reader can relate to the situation in Europe before World War II, the plight of the Jews, the virtue of righteous Gentiles who helped them, and the courage and strength it took to survive the war. Edith was a young girl enjoying life with her family in Vienna in 1938. After the Anschluss, the situation deteriorated quickly, and the Schwalbs were forced to move to Belgium, escaping mostly at night and on foot. Once the Nazis took over there and Edith's father was arrested, the family moved to the "free zone" of France, again seeking safety. By this time, Edith's younger brother, Gaston, was born. They soon learn that Vichy France may be worse than they thought; the government enthusiastically collaborates with the Nazis. Seeing no alternatives, Edith's mother and older sister go to work as maids in non-Jewish homes, and Edith and Gaston are sent to a special school in Moissac, where they meet other children who have been sent there for their protection. Shatta and Bouli Simon administer the school with strict yet loving involvement, and Edith is content as she makes friends. The town's citizens are aware of the school and protect its inhabitants by warning when Nazis come to town. The students go off into the words camping until the danger has passed. But soon it is too dangerous, and Edith is sent to a Catholic school to hide. When that area is bombed, she is placed with a family. As the war ends, she returns to Moissac, and reunites with her mother, sister and brother. Her father died in Auschwitz. Edith now lives in Toronto with her family.
The book is written simply, so the story is not overshadowed by flowery narrative. With this simple retelling, the horror and inhumanity of the Holocaust are portrayed without graphic descriptions of atrocities, and the story of a little girl who must move from country to country and home to home is one to which the average reader can relate. This book is recommended for all libraries. REVIEWED BY KATHE PINCHUCK (BLOOMFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY - BLOOMFIELD, NJ)