cover image Adam and Thomas

Adam and Thomas

Aharon Appelfeld, trans. from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green, illus. by Philippe Dumas. Seven Stories/Triangle Square, $18.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-60980-634-7

Toward the end of WWII, nine-year-old Adam accompanies his mother from the ghetto in which they live to the edge of the forest, where she leaves him, saying, “Don’t be afraid. You know our forest very well.” There, he meets his classmate Thomas, also left by his mother, and suggests they wait together. Days turn into weeks and months, and seasons change; the boys build a nest in a tree, forage for fruit, and have philosophical conversations about their parents, animals, dreams (“Was it a clear dream, or a mixed-up one?”), fitting in with others, and God. Mina, another classmate living with a peasant family, leaves them food, but they can’t thank her because “She’s living a hidden life now.” Each chapter begins with Dumas’s (The Story of Edward) spidery ink drawings, washed with pale blues and greens, which suggest a liminal state of being. Based on Appelfeld’s (The Conversion) own childhood, this simple yet profound tale conveys the astonishing power of thoughtful friendship to inspire generosity, compassion, and courage enough to withstand unthinkable horrors. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)