An uneven first novel in which the real-life Janusz Korczak plays a pivotal role in the tragic lives of the children of the Warsaw Ghetto. Misha, 13, and his two younger sisters live in Korczak's orphanage. In early 1942, mass deportations to the death camps begin, and the noose tightens around those Misha loves. His mother dies; his baby sister is smuggled over the wall to rescue; Misha himself, now in the Resistance, watches his other sister being marched away by the Nazis with Korczak and the other children from the orphanage. Laird's prose is often awkward; her point of view shifts; and her plot is not well structured. Still, the characters and setting here are memorable, and a useful postscript tells more about Korczak and distinguishes fact from fiction. A sincerely felt story that overcomes the weaknesses of its telling.