MARA’S STORIES by Gary Schmidt


Glimmers in the Darkness
Age Range: 11 & up
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The author of Straw Into Gold (2000) spins 23 brief tales drawn from collections of Hasidic legends into a deeply felt Holocaust memorial, recasting them as versions told by a concentration camp resident and set not in a timeless past, but the storyteller’s present: “ . . . as if they had just happened. As if they are happening even now.” So instead of generic oppressors, rabbis and simple folk face Nazis, even Hitler himself, or escape miraculously. Eisik seeks treasure under a bridge but finds it beneath his own iron stove after a German guard scornfully tells him of a dream; the Baal Shem Tov comes to stand witness over a mass grave; and two violinists play so beautifully—without instruments—that even the prisoners around them hear music. Schmidt is careful to explain what he has added to these episodes, names characters in honor of historical or Biblical figures, and conscientiously cites his sources. He leaves specific atrocities between the lines, but effectively conveys a sense of the time’s “soul terror,” adding a leavening of humor and plenty of searching, not-easily-answered questions for young readers to ponder. Gold, indeed. (Folktales. 11+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8050-6794-9
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001


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