cover image The Shadow Children

The Shadow Children

Steven Schnur. HarperCollins, $16.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13281-1

The Holocaust becomes the occasion for a ghost story in this troubling novel. Etienne, the 11-year-old narrator, is spending a summer with Grand-pere in rural France. He is puzzled when Grand-pere does not see the wraithlike children begging in the road. After a few more such sightings, Etienne discovers various children's trinkets in the woods, including a pen that mysteriously tattoos his arm with concentration-camp numbers. At last Etienne learns that during WWII, about 1000 Jewish children sought refuge in those woods-until the Germans forced the villagers to deliver them to certain death. Schnur (Hannah and Cyclops) underplays the historical background, with the result that the episode of the 1000 refugee children seems as unreal as the supernatural visitations. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)