cover image The Lily Cupboard

The Lily Cupboard

Shulamith Levey Oppenheim. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024669-3

Oppenheim ( Waiting for Noah ) tackles the delicate topic of the Holocaust, chronicling the experiences of two families--one Jewish, one not--in war-torn Holland. As the German occupation intensifies, Miriam's parents fear for their daughter's safety and send her to live with a non-Jewish family. In her new home a secret crawl space behind a wall panel becomes the girl's refuge should the soldiers approach. Although the text sometimes tenderly conveys Miriam's anxiety about separation and adjustment, this story ultimately does not ring true. The earnest, somewhat adult tone and occasionally artificial dialogue may limit the book's appeal. Children will have difficulty comprehending the scope of this ugly period in which ``many died a hideous death'' and when ``there were many heroes.'' However, Miriam's ordeal is sure to provoke further discussion and may serve to introduce the themes of war and racism. Himler's cozy Dutch farmhouse and verdant countryside provide a gentle, comforting backdrop for the somber drama and serve as a reminder that brutality can touch idyllic settings and innocent people. Ages 6-8. (Jan.)