Two Jewish boys are caught up in the horrors of Nazi persecution.
The story opens when 9-year-olds Adam and Thomas are each brought to a deep forest and left there with meager supplies. The boys find each other and soon realize that they will be in hiding for a very long time. Practical, resourceful Adam is very familiar with the forest, and quiet, studious Thomas learns to respect him and follow his lead. In order to survive hunger and cold and to avoid capture, they establish a hideaway in a tall tree and forage for food and water. From their aerie they witness Nazis chasing and shooting at other fugitives, and the boys give help when they can. There are a few miracles. Adam’s dog, Miro, finds them bearing a note from his mother. Mina, a schoolmate now in hiding on a farm, bravely brings them food, as does Sergei, a peasant who becomes another helper. Throughout these harrowing ordeals, the children speak and act as adults, comparing philosophies and religion, encouraging each other, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. With this story, Appelfeld recounts a version of his own history in descriptive detail, conveying suffering and lasting damage without self-pity. The fablelike tale ends without concluding; it is obvious that there is more uncertainty, fear, and hope to come. Finished, full-color illustrations not seen.
Deeply moving and powerful: unforgettable. (Historical fiction. 10-18)