THE DEVIL'S ARITHMETIC by Jane Yolen is required reading at my school, as it is in many middle/junior high schools across the country. I've been meaning to read it for several years but never did, until my son read it this year as an eighth grader. He insisted I read it. How could I resist that?
Hannah is celebrating Passover Seder with her family. It's the same thing every year. Grandpa will get all worked up over old photos on TV, shaking his fist, screaming about the numbers on his arm, and Aunt Eva will calm him down as she always does, laying a hand on his arm, leading the same old Jewish prayers as Hannah mumbles along. But this year will be different. Hannah's brother, Aaron, will get to hide the afikoman, Hannah will get to taste real wine, and then she'll get to open the door to symbolically welcome in the prophet Elijah.
But when she opened that door, she had no idea just how different this year's celebration would be.
Instead of seeing the hallway in front of her as she expected, she sees a man coming her way, crossing a field. Confused, she turns back to her family and instead sees a strange woman, dressed even more strangely, kneading dough on a wooden table. Hannah's confusion grows as she hears herself referred to as Chaya, and discovers that these two people believe themselves to be her Aunt Gitl and Uncle Shmuel. More unbelievably, they talk about her parents' deaths, and that she herself had nearly died, sick for weeks.
Feeling like she's in a dream she can't wake up from, she finds herself pulled into wedding festivities, which includes walking to a nearby village for the celebration. There, her dream turns into a nightmare.Lire la suite ›
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43 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A Touching Novel Showing The Best And Worst Of Man19 novembre 1999
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"Who, who are those men in black suits blocking our wedding," Fayge exclaimed. Chaya yelled,"They're Nazis. Nazis! They will kill six million Jews! Don't you understand we have to run!" All the people including the Rabbi thought Chaya (Hannah) was crazy, but she knew it was just a matter of time until they soon found out the truth. Hannah, in the book The Devil's Arithmetic; is an ordinary girl living in the present day, but when she goes to her grandfather's house she has a strange experience. As she opens the door for the prophet Elijah, she looks foward and finds herself in another time zone. She looks back into the house and sees all of her family members with an elegant and delicious meal on the table. Curious about what was on the other side of the door, she steps out and realizes that she is in the time right before the Holocaust. She is no longer Hannah; she is Chaya, and she is about to embark on a terrifying journey to a concentration camp. The author of this book, Jane Yolen, shows that she has a great talent in writing books that deeply touch your emotions. The content of the book is a great source of history as well as a story filled with morals about life and the human race. Most of the book is written in the form of conversations. This kind of writing style helps the reader really understand the character's feelings and thoughts. In addition, Jane Yolen uses the triple period often, which ;eaves the reader's mind open as to what the character was going to say. Her writing is extremely desriptive, and the detail she includes makes it possible for the reader to imagine the setting. Overall, I think Jane Yolen is a great, and superb writer. I think The Devil's Arithmetic is definitely A Newberry Award winning book. It shows every aspect of being a perfect literary book, including moving content, accurate historical information, desripive vocabulary, and a plot that keeps your attention until the very end. Therefore, I would definitely recommend this book. If you want to know what happens to Chaya, you should read this book. Another reason you should absolutely read this book is because it gives the history of the Holocaust in a unique way. Most importantly it tells how Jews struggled from the best of times to the worst of times.
43 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
You'll never forget it1 août 2000
E. A Solinas
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This is Schindler's List for children, a chilling account of the Holocaust from the point of view of a young girl. Yolen skimps on few details, and you can tell that her story comes straight from the heart. Hannah, a modern Jewish girl, is irritated by the Passover Seder and the "remembering" of the Holocaust, which some of her relatives lived through. But when she opens the door for Elijah, she is transported through time and space to a village in Poland. Soon the Nazis arrive, and Hannah (called "Chaya" by everyone in this new time) must both try to survive and to keep her friends alive in the deathcamps. I tried very, very hard to summarize this story, but the spiritual and emotional tones are simply impossible to talk about. This is an intense book, the descriptions of it simply can't express the greatness of this plot. A haunting tale of life, death, memory and sorrow. Even though this is a children's book, it may be disturbing for younger readers--you might want to talk to your children about it afterward.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Why We Need to Remember...13 avril 2006
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The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is an excellent book at any time of year, but a great choice to read in honor of both Passover and Yom Ha'Shoah.
The story involves 12 year old Hannah, who is bored out of her mind at her family's Seder in the current day, and just being an unhappy typical pre-teen annoyed by all her older relatives fussing over her and telling her how it's all about remembering yadda yadda.
But when she goes ungraciously to the door to welcome Elijah, the whole world changes and suddenly she is in a Polish shtetl on the eve of a joyous wedding celebration. Everyone thinks she is Chaya, a recently orphaned relative. But when Germans and trucks show up to "resettle" the villagers, Hannah/Chaya is the one who knows what's really happening and what is going to happen.
Hannah/Chaya experiences both the joys of the soon-to-be-gone shtetl life and the horrors of transport and the camps, making this an excellent educational read for young adult readers who aren't interested in non-fiction about the Shoah. And I especially liked the way the framing story acknowledges that sometimes Passover and the Seder can seem like a drag to an older child too old for the "childish" parts of the tradition but not old enough to appreciate the deeper meanings.
This was a very fast read as an adult and I'd recommend it for older kids with some understanding of the Shoah. Even though it's written as a young adult book, I found myself fully involved in the story and moved by it, and was in tears at various parts. It's well worth reading during this season as a reminder of all we need to remember and how much we have to be grateful for in our freedom.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
The Gift of Memory29 novembre 2000
L'évaluation d'un enfant
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This touching story is based on a 12 year old girl who is living in present day New Rochelle, NY. Her name is Hannah Stern, and the story starts when she goes to her grandpa's house for a Passover celebration. Hannah hates this holiday since she hates remembering anything, espically in the form of a boring Seder. When she opens the door to let Elijah, the prophet in, she finds herself in a shetl dating in the early 40's. She is told the people she is living with are her aunt and uncle. Everyone calls her Chaya, which means life. They tell her she went to live in Lublin, where she and her parents caught cholera. Only she barely survived. This whole time, she convinces herself that it is a strange dream. When she goes to a wedding, she is taken by the Nazis to a concentration camp by train. She befriends Rivka, a 10 year old who has been there a year. She learns how truely important it is to remember, as her memories of her life in New Rochelle fade. Hannah-or Chaya, leanrs how to survive through it all, by keeping memories strong. I think this was a BRILLIANT book, and I have read it more than once. It may be a little deep for those under 11, but it is good for a reader looking for a challange. Beyond that, it is in depth with the Holocaust. I reccommend anyone studying the subject to read it. Also, I believe this will greatly touch young Jews who seem like Hannah at the beginning of the story. I can't see how the story is unable to touch anyone's heart.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Very touching book!1 août 2001
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This is by far one of the most touching books I have ever read. The books starts at Passover when Hannah is tired of hearing about the Holocaust. As all the traditions are done Hannah loses much interest. However when Hannah goes to open the door for Elijah she finds that she has been transported back in time to the beginning of the Holocaust. Her new family calles her Chaya. As she and her family is transported to the camp she endures unhumane treatment. However Hannah learns a lot about herself. She learns that memories are very important. However the most important things are friends and family. That is what helps you survive. Hannah befriend a young girl named Rivka. They become very close. They both have to endure the most horrible treatment by the Nazis. Some of which I can even imagine or believe. In the end Hannah makes the ultimate sacrafice for Rivka but she is rewarded in a way she never can imagine back home. I highly recommend this book because it is written so accrualtly and tells of a time the whole world should be ashamed of.