This book was recommended to me by one of my students (thanks, Grace!) and is on the Sunshine State Readers list for 2010. I thought I had read all of the best holocaust-themed children's books (after all, is there anything better than Number the Stars and The Diary of Anne Frank?) until I realized that this book tells quite a different story.
Milada, a ten-year-old girl, lives with her mother and father, older brother, baby sister, and her beloved Babichka (grandmother) in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. Although her family is not Jewish, they are still terrorized by the brutish German soldiers who occupy their country. One fateful night the door is knocked down by two soldiers who demand they pack their things and follow them to a holding cell for all of the town citizens. Milada's father and brother are taken away and never seen or heard from again. Milada, who has blonde hair and blue eyes, is deemed of true Aryan descent (land, along with other Aryan children, is taken away to a boarding house where she will be forced to learn the German language and customs. She is given a new name, Eva, and over time begins to forget her Czech heritage despite her Babichka's last words to "Remember who you are. Always."
The remainder of this heartbreaking and dramatically real story tells of Milada's (Eva's) adoption into a German family and her struggle to remain true to her self despite the horrendous circumstances surrounding her. Will she break free of the Nazi brainwashing? Will she ever return to her country and be reconnected with her family? Oh, dear reader, you must track down this book and read it immediately!
I would recommend reading this with a family member, as you will definitely want to talk about it!
Recipe to Read By:
Czech This Out: Ice Cream Kolache
Traditional kolaches are a to-die-for sweet roll with a yummy filling that uses yeast and all kinds of other ingredients. Although Milada's Babichka would have probably frowned at this non-traditional recipe, it is a great deal easier than dealing with a yeast dough! Na viděnou! (That's "see you later" in Czech.)
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream
- 2 cups butter
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fruit preserves, any flavor (I like raspberry!)
- Add flour to butter and crumble together using a fork. Add ice cream to crumbled mixture and, using your hands, work into dough. (This is super-fun but also super-cold! I recommend using rubber glovers!)
- When dough is smooth, shape into ball and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Roll dough to about 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Using the rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out circles. Place on a cookie sheet and make a thumbprint in center of each. Fill thumbprints with 1/2 teaspoon fruit filling.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar when cool.
- Dobrou chuť. (Enjoy!)
Recipe provided by www.allrecipes.com