From Goodreads: He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.
He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.
Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan.
How heartless do I sound when I say I didn't like the story because I found the orphaned boy and his little friend annoying? Written to be naive and sympathetic, the central character is an orphan boy who has been on his own so long that he doesn't know his name or any of his history. By day, he delights in the pageantry of the Nazis not understanding why others fear them and by night steals food and collects coal to give it to other orphans. He touches the heart of the people around him and they shelter him and care for him despite the danger he brings upon them because of his naivete. Ugh. It was just too much. The boy was too blind to the events around him and his little friend came across as whiny and spoiled. The bright light for me was some of the lesser characters who were interesting and had more range in their emotions. (I'd really like to read a book about Uri's story - how does he get from where he was an orphan on the streets to the life he leads at the end?) I read this one before giving it to my Youngest because I have heard great things about Jerry Spinelli. I'll have to give a different Jerry Spinelli book a try because this one didn't live up to my expectations.