A fictionalized Holocaust account that may make readers wonder why the author didn't trust her own story.
Nonna, the grandmother who narrates this story, has tiny charms on her bracelet: a donkey, a piglet, a spinning wheel, a boat. Each item reminds her of her escape from the Nazis in Italy during World War II. She and her brother hid in a basket full of pigs, on its way to a farm in the country. After the war, they sailed on a boat to America. Some children will think the charm bracelet is exactly right, the perfect storybook image to sum up her escape. More skeptical children will say: Wait, did the person who made the bracelet have a spinning-wheel charm just sitting around? Or did someone ask him to make a spinning wheel, even though the wheel was just a small part of Nonna’s story? Children who read all the way through the afterword will find out that, actually, Nonna was a boy. Through the device of the charm bracelet, Russo has turned their story into a little fable, a small, snapshot version of the war. The real history is moving its own right and full of miraculous escapes, but it isn’t a fable.
Some readers will love the little miracle of the charm bracelet. Others will want the whole truth, even if it isn’t a tidy story. (Picture book. 6-11)