cover image Mapping the Bones

Mapping the Bones

Jane Yolen. Philomel, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-25778-0

Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic) returns to the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust in this expansive, eloquent novel about siblings Chaim and Gittel Abromowitz, 14-year-old twins connected by a secret language and a fierce love for each other. Their Jewish family has been relocated to the Lódz ghetto in Poland, stuffed into a small apartment with another family, the difficult Norenbergs, including children Sophie and Bruno. As the situation in the ghetto worsens and Dr. Norenberg disappears, Chaim pawns his mother’s engagement ring so both families can make a dangerous escape into the forest and, eventually, across the border into the Soviet Union. Before long, the children are separated from their parents, by death and the partisans (Nazi resisters) who help them make the crossing. Yolen’s Briar Rose combined the tragedies of the Holocaust with the story of Sleeping Beauty; the echoes of Hansel and Gretel in Chaim and Gittel’s harrowing journey are equally effective, and no less horrific. Interludes highlighting Gittel’s memories and Chaim’s poetry provide glimpses of hope and brightness amid the cruelties the children endure. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Mar.)