Lasky, Kathryn. The Extra.
9 October 2013, Candlewick
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Lilo and her family live in Vienna, and her father is a respected jeweler. They are Sinti, however, and the Nazis have been rounding up both the Sinti and Roma Gypsies and sending them to concentration camps. For a while, the family is able to stay together, but eventually the father is sent to another camp. Lilo is fiercely protective of her mother, especially when she is able to escape being sterilized but her mother is not. Lilo meets a boy who helps her survive the camp, Django, especially when Leni Riefenstahl, the movie director, commandeers a group of Gypsies to be extras in her movie, Tieflander, that she is filming. There are a few perks to being on the film, such as more food and a better place to sleep, but Leni is a cruel and demanding person who views the extras as completely expendable. This is especially cruel of Unku, a girl who has a flirtation with one of the actors to whom Leni is attracted. Unku disappears, and Leni realizes that she needs to keep her own mouth shut. She has the good role of being Leni's extra for horse riding scenes, and for a while keeps her mother with her by saying that her mother has a way with horses. After Leni's mother dies, Lilo manages to run away and is found by three German scientists who feel they must save her. One has a sister who works on puppet show, and agrees to hide Lilo. Lilo does not leave the apartment for a year, but then goes to work at the theatre, sewing costumes for the puppets. All is good for a while, but then she must run again and survive until the Allies come.
Strengths: Very interesting facet of WWII and the Holocaust. I had heard of Riefenstahl but didn't know details. This reminded me of Moskin's I am Rosemarie (1972) in it's scope of years and variety of experiences. Definitely ordering this one for our 8th grade unit on the Holocaust.
Weaknesses: This could have been trimmed down a bit; some of it rambled. I think that Lasky did a good job of portraying Riefenstahl, although in the afterword she does opine that she was very evil. I don't think that Riefenstahl was admirable in her treatment of Gypsies in the least, but do think that she was a product of her time, and that her motivations and character were probably very complex.
Timberlake, Amy. One Came Home
8 January 2013, Knopf
Nominated for the Cybils by LibrarianLove
In 1871, Georgie is devastated when the body of her older sister Agatha is returned to the family, but she doesn't really believe her sister is dead. Since the only thing that was identifiable about the body was a blue green ball gown, Georgie decides to investigate and find out what really happened. She asks Billy, the one time love interest of her sister, to help her by renting her a horse, but he decides to come along with her, since she is only 11. Georgie is a smart girl, and a dead shot with a gun, which is handy when cougars and bad guys get in the way. Georgie finds out that her sister had taken up with some "pigeoners"; people who shoot and sell pigeons when the area is overrun with them, and comes across a wide variety of unsavory, Wild West characters while trying to track down her sister.
Strengths: Nice historical notes in the back tell more about the phenomenon of the pigeons, and this is a nice mystery, which Georgie solves in a realistic way. Billy is an interesting character as well.
Weaknesses: Georgie's attitudes toward her sister getting an education don't seem in keeping with the time. The ending would have made more sense if there had been more resistance by the whole family to the sister striking out on her own and going to the university.