cover image Elisabeth


Claire A. Nivola. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32085-0

Illustrator Nivola (The Disobedient Eels) proves herself a sure-handed storyteller with this moving, true story from her mother's life. The narrator, remembering her girlhood in Germany, describes her doll Elisabeth (""We loved each other so dearly that we shared everything""). But after the Nazis rise to power, she and her parents flee, leaving everything behind-including Elisabeth. Decades later in the United States, she joyfully finds Elisabeth in an antiques store. Elisabeth then passes from mother to daughter to granddaughter, and ""sometimes we wonder together-as I'm sure you will-how Elisabeth came to find me and mend my heart after so many years and across such a wide ocean."" Enlivened by quirky anecdotes (such as the narrator's dog Fifi dragging Elisabeth around ""to dance""-and thereby leaving teeth marks for later identification), the text floats smoothly atop the story's dark undercurrents, further buoyed by Nivola's radiant and tender illustrations. Though generously detailed with atmospheric particulars, her paintings never lose their focus on the protagonist's deep emotions. A story that will linger in the reader's heart. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)