by Karen Hesse
Scholastic Press, 2004 32 pages
When the Nazis took Poland, they created a Jewish “ghetto” in the capital city of Warsaw – Jews were forced to live in one area of the city which was then surrounded with a high brick wall to keep them in. The ghetto was overcrowded, and food was scarce.
Though this is a grim setting for a children’s picture book, this is certainly not a grim book. It tells the story of a Jewish girl who has escaped the ghetto, and lives outside the Wall masquerading as a non-Jew. She has befriended the stray cats that live in the cracks and dark corners of the Wall. When her older sister Mira tells her of a plan to bring food to the ghetto Jews, she can help, by telling Mira about all the holes in the Wall that the cats travel through. And when the Germans find out about this plan, and bring their dogs to find out who is bringing food to the Wall, this little Jewish girl helps again…by bringing cats to distract the dogs!
This is a gorgeous picture book, and a story of courage, cleverness and hope. And it is all the more wonderful because it is based on a true story!