cover image Dancing on the Bridge of Avignon

Dancing on the Bridge of Avignon

Ida Vos. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-395-72039-4

Continuing to explore the experiences of Dutch Jewish children during WWII, Dutch author Vos (Anna Is Still Here; Hide and Seek) breaks new ground with this profoundly affecting and sorrowful novel. As the Nazis impose restrictions and as the deportations begin, Rosa, Vos's heroine, spends hours curled in a chair, lost in daydreams; she and her younger sister memorize the dates of all the Nazi proclamations and quiz each other about them-the morbid and the everyday have become interchangeable. As the historical nightmare intensifies, the parents' efforts to provide stability in their home become harder and harder. When Rosa's uncle, telling them a wildly improbable story, promises the whole family safe passage to the south of France, the girls begin learning French words and songs, and even as their desperate father recognizes that the uncle's plan is almost certainly a fantasy, he has nothing to offer in its place. In a stark, shattering conclusion, the family is arrested and sent toward certain death while Rosa is spared-because of her resemblance to a German officer's daughter. Although this novel's dark lyricism may inhibit its accessibility within the target audience, readers with some understanding of the Holocaust-adults as well as the young-will find Vos's message haunting and inescapable. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)