cover image The Doll with the Yellow Star

The Doll with the Yellow Star

Yona Zeldis McDonough, , illus. by Kimberly Bulcken Root. . Holt, $16.95 (90pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6337-0

This solemnly straightforward chapter book follows Claudine, a Jewish French girl, and her beloved doll Violette as her world is turned upside down twice: first when the Nazis occupy France, and then again when the eight-year-old must leave Papa and Maman behind in Paris to seek safety with relatives in America. McDonough (Anne Frank ) depicts Violette as both a witness to and an embodiment of Claudine's tumultuous experience. The doll, the girl's prized possession, becomes a symbol of Claudine's carefree, pre-war life, and then a steadfast companion as the noose tightens around the Jewish community—and, finally, both a casualty of war and its miraculous survivor. While the prose slips into woodenness at times, the events keep the pages turning, and McDonough's emotional acuity always shines through. The author is at her best in the chapters set in America (in one heart-wrenching passage, the girl asks her Aunt Adele whether she must continue to wear the yellow star), and the life she and her father slowly rebuild after the war without Maman, who was murdered by the Nazis. Although the illustrator seems more at ease in portraying Claudine as fragile rather than the girl of quiet but enormous resilience portrayed in the story, Root's spot art and full-page illustrations convey a simple poignancy. Ages 7-12. (Oct.)